Russian professor & Napoleon expert confesses to dismembering lover

A cleaner mops the floor next to "Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, Crossing the Alps" by French artist Jacques-Louis David at the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum during a media tour on November 6, 2017
A cleaner mops the floor next to “Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, Crossing the Alps” by French artist Jacques-Louis David at the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum during a media tour on November 6, 2017

Sokolov’s lawyer Alexander Pochuev told AFP that ‘he has admitted his guilt’

A prominent Saint Petersburg-based Napoleon expert has confessed to murdering his young lover and former student by dismembering her body in a grisly crime that sent shock waves across Russia.

Oleg Sokolov, a 63-year-old history lecturer who received France’s Legion d’Honneur in 2003, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of murder after he was hauled out of Saint Petersburg’s Moika River with a backpack containing a woman’s arms.

He reportedly told investigators that he killed his 24-year-old lover during an argument, and then sawed off her head, arms and legs. He planned to dispose of her corpse and later publicly commit suicide dressed up as Napoleon.

Sokolov’s lawyer Alexander Pochuev told AFP that “he has admitted his guilt” and is now willing to cooperate.

“He is an elderly person,” Pochuev said, adding that he was being treated for hypothermia in a local hospital. He declined to release further details.

Students described Sokolov as both a talented lecturer who spoke French and could impersonate the French emperor, and a “freak” who called his lover “Josephine” and asked to be addressed as “Sire”.

The historian is the author of books on French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and had acted as a historical consultant on several films, and was also a member of Lyon-based Institute of Social Science, Economics and Politics (ISSEP).

On Saturday the society announced that he had been stripped of his position on its scientific committee.

“We learn with horror about the atrocious crime of which Oleg Sokolov is allegedly guilty,” it said in a statement on Twitter, adding, “we could never imagine that he could commit such an odious act”.

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