A court in Saint Petersburg on Friday sentenced a Russian historian and Napoleon enthusiast to twelve and a half years in prison for murdering and dismembering his young student lover last year.
The process that spurred activists to express growing anger over domestic abuse in Russia began in June after delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Oleg Sokolov, a history professor who received the French Legion of Honor in 2003, came into the courtroom in a gray suit and white shirt, an AFP journalist reported after the trial.
Sokolov was pacing up and down a glass cell when Judge Julia Maximenko sentenced him to “12 years and six months in a strict regime penal colony” for murder and illegal possession of firearms.
“He was aware of his actions at the time of the crime,” Maximenko said as she read the verdict, adding that the intention to murder “suddenly” emerged.
Sokolov was arrested in November 2019 after being drunk and being dragged with a backpack by a woman’s arms out of the freezing Moika River in Saint Petersburg.
The historian pleaded guilty to murdering 24-year-old Anastasia Yeshchenko but said he committed the crime in the heat of the moment during an argument with his former student and lover.
Sokolov’s lawyer, Sergei Lukyanov, said the defense “disagrees” with the verdict but will decide whether to appeal after receiving a copy of the verdict.
Last week the court heard the final arguments on the case and prosecutors moved for a 15-year term.
Yeschenko’s parents took part in the sentencing on Friday.
Her lawyer, Alexandra Baksheyeva, told reporters that the family has no intention of appealing the verdict for a tougher sentence, even though “nothing can bring their daughter back”.
Sokolov taught history at the Saint Petersburg State University, President Vladimir Putin’s alma mater, and was close to the authorities.
The decorated historian authored several books on Napoleon Bonaparte and often directed historical re-enactments of the French emperor’s Russian campaign of 1812.
The gruesome murder scandalized Russia after many of its students said Sokolov had shown inappropriate behavior in the past and called for the university’s management to be investigated.
According to activists, nearly 16.5 million women across Russia are victims of domestic violence every year.
Efforts to advocate a special law against violence and to protect the victims, however, have failed.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)