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Young woman who survived relationship with Russian historian now arrested for murder speaks out


Anastasia Yeshchenko, a graduate student in history at St. Petersburg State University, was found dead on November 9. She was killed and dismembered by Oleg Sokolov, a 63-year-old instructor at her university. The two were in a relationship and living together. The St. Petersburg news outlet Fontanka interviewed another young woman who was studying philology as an undergraduate at the same institution when she met Sokolov in the mid-2000s. The two eventually entered into a relationship but later separated. This is an abridged version of the young woman’s retelling of that time.

When we started our relationship, he said I was the girl of his dreams. He said his wife had died. I only found out that was a lie from his friends, but by then, I had already fallen in love. He can be very gallant, very attentive, it was interesting to be around him. But everything he did, he did for himself. He never shared his connections. He dressed me up like a doll and showed me off to people. He completely destroyed my psychological and emotional health. Toward the end of our relationship, I was isolated — no friends, no communication with my loved ones. When I decided to leave him and came to take away my things, he taped me to a chair and then started beating me. He brought in an iron. I think he wanted to kill me, but he couldn’t for some reason. When he let me go, I went to the police, but they didn’t want to deal with it. Then, he stalked me and asked me to come back. I came back, and we spent another year together. I don’t understand how it happened; my life was destroyed, and it feels as though that was my revenge against him. Every time we dated, there was a scandal. Once, when I was finishing up another round of hysterics, he told me, “I’m going to kill you, bitch.” It came off so naturally that something clicked into place in my head, and I ran away for good. He only didn’t kill me because he was younger, he was married. When I refused to testify in the Kuzhim case, people told me that if he kills Yeshchenko, it would be my fault, too. I really want to get away from that feeling, but it weighs heavily on me.

Summary by Grigory Levchenko

Cover photo: Olga Maltseva / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

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