Murder suspect professor ordered to be detained by Russian court

A court in Russia has rejected a defence lawyer's request for a prominent Russian history professor, who is suspected of murdering and dismembering a female student, to be released under house arrest pending trial.

The St Petersburg court ordered Oleg Sokolov to be detained for two months.

Sokolov was detained on Saturday after being pulled from St Petersburg's Moika River, where a backpack containing two severed arms also was found.

The arms were identified as those of the student. Police said other body parts were found in Sokolov's home near the river.

Oleg Sokolov
Oleg Sokolov is a prominent Russian history professor (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)

Sokolov has confessed to the killing, according to his lawyer, Alexander Pochuev.

Investigators allege that Sokolov shot and killed 24-year-old Anastasia Eshchenko on Thursday at his apartment and then dismembered her body.

Sokolov broke into tears in the courtroom. He said he had a romantic relationship with Ms Eshchenko and gave a rambling account of a quarrel they had, but did not talk about his action in detail.

Sokolov has been awarded France's highest award, the Legion of Honour, for his studies of Napoleonic France.

A fluent French speaker, he has been an enthusiastic member of military reenactment movements since the early 1990s and represented Napoleon in numerous representations of historic battles and other events.