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Russia Historian Gets More Than 12 Years for Murdering, Dismembering Girlfriend

Russian historian Oleg Sokolov, accused of murdering and dismembering his former student lover, stands inside a defendants' cage during his verdict hearing in Saint Petersburg on Dec. 25, 2020.

A Russian court has sentenced a flamboyant Russian professor who killed and dismembered his student lover to 12 1/2 years in prison after convicting him of her murder.

Oleg Sokolov, 64, who was once awarded France’s Order of Legion d'Honneur for his research into military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, was detained in St. Petersburg in November 2019 after being pulled out of the Moika River with a backpack containing the severed body parts of a woman.

Investigators later found the woman’s head in his apartment.

Sokolov later admitted to killing and dismembering his lover, 24-year-old postgraduate student Anastasia Yeshchenko.

State prosecutors had requested a 15-year sentence for Sokolov.

Sokolov, who regularly dressed in Napoleon-era costumes and took part in battle reenactments, said during the hearing that he fully accepted guilt on all charges, but added that he was not sure if the murder was premeditated as, according to him, he killed his lover in state of "temporary insanity."

The high-profile case was adjourned or postponed several times in recent months for various reasons, including restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.