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Russian historian found with two arms in backpack admits killing former student

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Napoleon fanatic Oleg Sokolov admitted to killing his former student
Napoleon fanatic Oleg Sokolov admitted to killing his former student -
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AFP
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A renowned Russian historian has admitted to killing his partner after he was pulled from a river by police and found with a woman's arms in his backpack.

Oleg Sokolov, a specialist on Napoleon, has been charged with the murder of Anastasia Yeshchenko, a 24-year-old former student of his, whom he confessed in court to shooting dead with a rifle.

The 63-year-old history professor at St Petersburg State University told the court he had loved Yeshchenko and that they had been lovers for five years.

But they argued over his children from another relationship and he had “lost control,” shooting her four times with a sawn-off rifle, he said.

“During the row, we all lost control. I don’t understand how it happened. Something like this has never happened to me before. She attacked me with a knife,” he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

“I repent,” he said.

Investigators suspect Sokolov, whose expertise on Napoleon Bonaparte earned him a Legion d'honneur order of merit from France, of chopping his lover into pieces and of trying to dump them in the river to cover his tracks.

He was hauled from the Moyka River on Saturday morning with a rucksack containing a gun that fires rubber bullets and the dismembered arms of a woman, Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles major crimes, said in a statement.

Yeshchenko, 24, was also passionate about the Napoleonic era, and the postgraduate co-authored several books with him.

He was also a member in France of the scientific council of Issep, the school founded by the former far-right deputy Marion Maréchal, who dismissed him from his post as soon as his arrest was announced.

"As a professor of the chair of modern history at the University of St Petersburg, guest director of studies at the Ecole pratique des hautes études at the Sorbonne, decorated with the French Legion of Honour, we had no idea that he could commit this heinous act," Issep explained in a statement.

The court ruled to hold Sokolov in pre-trial custody for two months.

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