Digital Journal.com By Marina Koreneva Tues., June 09, 2020
The trial of a decorated Russian historian accused of murdering and dismembering his young lover began Tuesday in a case that has fuelled intense debate in Russia over domestic violence.
Oleg Sokolov (pic above), a history lecturer who received France’s Legion d’Honneur in 2003, was arrested last year on suspicion of murder after he was hauled out of the freezing Moika River in Saint Petersburg drunk with a backpack containing a woman’s arms.
He confessed in November to murdering and dismembering his 24-year-old ex-student and lover Anastasia Yeshchenko (pic above) and was held in pre-trial detention.
There were calls following his arrest for an investigation into his alleged abuse of female students.
On Tuesday, Sokolov appeared in a Saint Petersburg court behind a glass cage, wearing a face mask and blue surgical gloves. He looked nervous and rubbed his hands.
His lawyer Alexander Pochuyev said ahead of the hearing that Sokolov was in good physical condition but that his psychological state was “of course difficult”.
“He repents,” the lawyer told AFP.
The hearing was adjourned until Monday after lawyers said a new recording had emerged and they needed time to examine it.
Pochuyev implied that Yeshchenko may have provoked his client, saying a “traumatic situation” had preceded the tragedy.
Sokolov broke down during a hearing in November, saying he was “devastated” by what happened.
He had lived with the victim for several years and initially tried to blame her for the murder, saying she attacked him with a knife during a heated argument.
Sokolov taught history at Saint Petersburg State University, President Vladimir Putin’s alma mater, and was close to the authorities.