Russian investigators have released footage of a distinguished Napoleonic-era scholar throwing a package allegedly containing severed arms of his girlfriend into a river along with the video of his curiosities-filled apartment.
Oleg Sokolov, 63-year-old St Petersburg University professor and Legion of Honor recipient, confessed to the killing of his graduate-student-turned-lover over the weekend, after police detained him with a package containing body parts and a non-lethal gun. He was dragged out freezing waters of the Moyka River in the historic area of St. Petersburg.
The CCTV footage released on Monday captured the moment a man investigators believe to be Sokolov threw plastic bags over the cast-iron railing along the river bank. He later either fell or jumped into the water.
All of this took place not far away from his apartment, which was filled with weapons, guns, flags, paintings, sculptures, medals and a full medieval knight’s armor, as another video released by police reveals.
The Investigative Committee’s footage showed a sawed-off shotgun, which is believed to have been used by Sokolov to murder his lover, the 24-year-old St Petersburg State University postgraduate student, Anastasia Yeshchenko. The weapon was made out of a Soviet rifle, decorated to look like a 19th-century pistol.
Sokolov and Yeshchenko shared a passion for the history of France and its 1812 war with Russia, and they collaborated on several projects. As their relationship progressed over the course of three years, his wife left him and the young flame moved in, according to Russian media. They were seen in public, waltzing together at historic balls.
Last Thursday, however, they had a jealousy-fueled quarrel and Sokolov is alleged to have killed Yeshchenko. The professor insisted in court that that the woman attacked him first, getting angry after being told that he was going to spend the weekend with his children from the previous marriage. He dismembered the body and started throwing parts into the river, while drinking. Police are yet to find all of Yeshchenko’s body parts.
During the interrogation, the scholar said that after the deed he wanted to commit a public suicide, while wearing the Napoleonic-era uniform with golden epaulets. The outfit was found in his apartment, along with other relics from the era.
His fascination with Napoleonic times – Sokolov often put on his costume at various historic reconstruction events and lectures – was not the professor’s only eccentricity. He was known to squabble with his scientific rivals and even kicked out students questioning his theories out of the classroom.
However, he was not only a distinguished professor at one of the most prestigious Russian universities, but his studies of the Napoleonic era earned him the Legion of Honor, the highest national order of merit in France.
On Monday, the judge ordered for the professor to be jailed for two months, pending the end of the murder investigation. The defense plans to appeal the ruling, arguing that “a man with scientific degrees shouldn’t be kept in the same cell with hardcore
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