Russian Historian Arrested After Woman's Arms Found In His Backpack

Local media said Sokolov was drunk and fell into the river as he tried to dispose of body parts

Police in the Russian city of St. Petersburg are planning to interrogate a prominent professor who has been detained on suspicion of killing a female student after being pulled from a frigid river with a backpack containing severed arms.

"He has admitted his guilt", Sokolov's lawyer Alexander Pochuev told the outlet, adding that his client was cooperating with authorities.

Sokolov, a leading expert on Russian military history, is now in hospital after suffering from hypothermia.

Sokolov was awarded the Order of Legion d'Honneur, France's highest civilian decoration, in 2003 by France's then-President Jacques Chirac for his studies on Napoleon.

His students told AFP that he was a talented lecturer, but was also a "freak" who asked his lover to address him as "sire".

Rescuers examine the bottom of the Moika River where the remains of a student killed by Oleg Sokolov were found in St. Petersburg, Russia, on November 10, 2019.

Sokolov was reportedly drunk and fell in as he tried to dispose of body parts.

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The historian has written several books on Napoleon and also acted as a historical consultant on several films.

"When the iron warmed up, he brought it to my face, so that I could feel its heat coming from him, and began to threaten that it would disfigure me for the rest of my life", the girl reportedly said in a police statement in 2008.

Both the professor and his deceased lover studied French history and co-authored a number of works.

Russian news agency TASS said that the newly discovered remains have not been identified but are presumed to belong to a man.

Sokolov was also a member of Lyon-based Institute of Social Science, Economics and Politics (ISSEP), which announced Saturday that he had been stripped of his position on its scientific committee.

"We learn with horror.the atrocious crime of which Oleg Sokolov is guilty", the statement said, adding that they could never have imagined that Sokolov, "an academic of such standing" could commit such an "odious act".

ISSEP was founded by Marion Marechal, the niece of Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party.

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