Boris Skossyreff

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Boris Skossyreff, Andorra, 1934

Boris Skossyreff (June 12, 1896, Vilnius – 1989,[citation needed] Boppard), or Skosyrev °?(Russian: Борис Скосырев[1] was an adventurer of noble Lithuanian background, who attempted to seize power in the European state of Andorra during the early 1930s.[citation needed]

Previous life[edit]

In January 1919, a Boris Skossyreff - aged 22 and a former translator for the Japanese Military Mission - appeared in Westminster Police Court in London charged with passing fraudulent cheques: the money was eventually paid, by the same person according to The Times.[verification needed]

"King of Andorra"[edit]

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 himself. He quickly got into trouble, however, and was expelled around May 1934.[citation needed]

On July 12 the same year he issued a proclamation in Urgell, Spain, declaring himself Boris I, King of Andorra and "Regent for His Majesty the King of France" (though the family heads of the House of Bourbon disavowed him), and declaring war on the Bishop of Urgell, Justí Guitart i Vilardebó, the Co-Prince of Andorra. 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 expelled from Spain in November.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

This 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.[2] This account claimed that Skossyreff had made his proclamation on July 11, not the day after, 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, promulgated a constitution and issued a Court Circular before being arrested by the Civil Guard,[2] taken to Spain and then expelled to Portugal.

According to some sources,[specify] he died in 1944 while imprisoned in a camp near Perpignan by the Vichy French regime during World War II. However, he survived and became a "special officer" (Sonderführer (de), a civilian technician working with the Army) on the Eastern Front.[citation needed]


In some Russian-language publications and websites there are somewhat legendary stories reported as fact, notably claiming that Boris I ruled Andorra for a number of years until 1941, whereupon he was overthrown by Vichy France.[3] 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) and based on Skossyreff's story, was written in 1984 by Catalan author Antoni Morell i Mora.[4] The author dedicated the book to his grandmother, who he claimed had personally met Skossyreff. The novel was later adapted for the stage by Beth Escuda.[5]


  1. ^ Сопельняк, Борис (2003). Тайны Смоленской площади. Терра. p. 209. ISBN 5-275-00909-7. 
  2. ^ a b "'Spain week by week". Bulletin of Spanish Studies 11 (44): 209–216. 1934. doi:10.1080/14753825012331364384. 
  3. ^ This legendary account is developed in Russian here, and refuted (again in Russian) here
  4. ^ Morell, Antoni (1984). Borís I, Rei D'andorra. La Magrana. ISBN 84-7410-157-3. 
  5. ^ Official website of the play

External links[edit]