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Boris Skossyreff (January 12, 1896, Vilnius – 1989, Boppard) was an adventurer of noble Russian background who attempted to seize power in the European state of Andorra during the early 1930s.
In January 1919, described as a former translator for the Japanese Military Mission, he appeared in Westminster Police Court in London charged with passing fraudulent cheques; according to The Times, the money was paid in full.
"King of Andorra"
In December,1933, Skossyreff obtained Andorran citizenship, and after some time he presented a plan for administrative reform involving the creation of several offices to which he asked to be appointed. He quickly got into trouble, however, and was expelled around May 1934.
On July 6, 1934, he issued a proclamation in Urgell, Spain, declaring himself Boris I, King of Andorra and "Regent for His Majesty the King of France", (but the family heads of the House of Bourbon disavowed him). He declared war on the Bishop of Urgell, Justí Guitart i Vilardebó, the Co-Prince of Andorra. Two days later, the General Council of Andorra voted unanimously for the monarchy, and a provisional government was formed the next day. The General Council became the Parliament, a new flag adorned with a crown was adopted, and a new constitution was drafted.
After a week of reign, there was a coup. On July 20 Skossyreff was arrested by Spanish Guardia Civil and taken out of Andorra, first to Barcelona and then on July 23 to Madrid, where he was imprisoned until he was deported from Spain in November.
Spanish authorities who held him in custody noted that he carried a Dutch passport, which indicated his date of birth as June 12, 1896. He declared himself to be a White émigré, born in Vilnius (in 1896 part of Russian Empire but now the capital of Lithuania).
That account was somewhat contradicted by the publication "Spain Week by Week", which reported on 25 July 1934 that Skossyreff was a 38-year-old Jew, who had been resident "for some years" in Catalonia and Majorca. That account claimed that Skossyreff had made his proclamation on July 11, not a day later, and had declared himself "Boris I, Prince of the Valleys of Andorra, Count of Orange and Baron of Skossyreff… sovereign of Andorra and defender of the faith".
After pledging his allegiance to the King of France (a purely theoretical allegiance, since France has had no king since 1848), he had deposed the General Council, appointed a provisional government, written a constitution, and issued a Court Circular before he was taken to Spain and then deported to Portugal.
Some sources[specify] claim he died in 1944 while imprisoned in a camp near Perpignan by the Vichy French regime during World War II. However, others claim he survived and became a "special officer" (Sonderführer, a civilian technician working with the Army) on the Eastern Front.
In some Russian-language publications and websites, there are somewhat legendary stories reported as fact, notably claiming that he ruled Andorra for a number of years until 1941, when he was overthrown by Vichy France.
This version is not supported by accounts in other languages.[verification needed]
A novel, entitled Boris I, rei d'Andorra (Boris I, King of Andorra) was written in 1984 by Catalan author Antoni Morell i Mora. The author dedicated the book to his grandmother, who he claimed had personally met Boris. It was later adapted for the stage by Beth Escuda.
- "'Spain week by week". Bulletin of Spanish Studies. 11 (44): 209–216. 1934. doi:10.1080/14753825012331364384.
- This legendary account is developed in Russian here, and refuted (again in Russian) here
- Morell, Antoni (1984). Borís I, Rei D'andorra. La Magrana. ISBN 84-7410-157-3.
- Official website of the play[permanent dead link]
- (Spanish) Borís Skossyreff: el aventurero ruso que se proclamó Rey de Andorra
- (Russian) rg.ru
- (German) Boris I. King of Andorra
- (Catalan) Boris II, a comic king - article about a Superlópez comic where Skosssyreff plays a relevant role
- (Portuguese) olhao.web.pt, with a photograph of his tombstone.
- information on former files[permanent dead link] at The National Archives and other sources.
- Collection of articles in Catalan, Spanish, and English
- An article on The History Files, with a list of references
- The Times has a number of articles about Boris Skossyreff - both the takeover and the 1919 incident mentioned above (6 January 1919 p 4, 13 January p 2, 18 January p 5, and 20 January p 5).
- Regional Surveys of the World, Western Europe 2003, Fifth Edition 2003, Editors Juliet Love i Jilian O'Brien (English)
- Andorra Business Law Handbook. International Business Publications, USA. Washington, DC 20003. 6th Edition Updated. ISBN 1-4330-0104-7 (English)
- Thomas Eccardt. Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe. Hippocrene Books, Inc. 171 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016. ISBN 0-7818-1032-9. (English)
- Luis Capdevila. Nouvelle Découverte de l'Andorre. Nouvelles Editions Latines. Paris 1959, p. 180 i següents (French)