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Beskyd, Antonii

Beskyd, Antonii/Beskid, Anton/Beszkid, Antal ((b. September 16, 1855, Hanigovce [Hungarian Kingdom], Slovakia; d. June 16, 1933, Uzhhorod [Czechoslovakia], Ukraine) — lawyer and political activist of Russian national orientation in the Presov Region and in Subcarpathian Rus’. Beskyd came from a family of distinguished Greek Catholic priests and Rusyn patriots. His grandfather, Mykhail Beskyd (pseudonym: Laborchan, 1796-1879), was an ethnographer, publicist, and collaborator of the nineteenth-century national awakeners Aleksander *Dukhnovych and Adol’f *Dobrians’kyi; his father, Hryhorii/Georgii Beskyd (pseudonym: Torysyn, 1829-1892) was a folklorist and historian. Antonii Beskyd was educated at the Law Academy in Presov (1874-1877) and at the law faculty of the University of Budapest (Ju.Dr., 1880). He worked as a legal apprentice in Budapest (1880-1883) and then returned to eastern Slovakia, practising law in Kezmarok (1883-1907), Spisska Stara Ves, and Presov, where he also served as legal consultant (1906-1910) to the *Greek Catholic Eparchy of Presov. His political career began after he was elected by the oppositional People’s Catholic party as deputy (1910-1918) from the Spish region to the Hungarian Parliament. In parliament he maintained close contacts with fellow Slovak deputies, helped promote the building of a railroad line through the Presov Region and Lemko Region, and protested against the anti-Orthodox *Maramorosh-Sighet trial (1913-1914).

Following the collapse of Austria-Hungary Beskyd adopted a pro-Czechoslovak political orientation, established the Presov National Council (November 1918), and together with the Galician *Russophiles Andrei *Gagatko and Dymytrii *Vyslotskii successfully eliminated the influence of the pro-Ukrainian group in the *Presov Region led by Emilian *Nevyts’kyi. On December 21, 1918, members of the Lemko Rusyn Council in Galicia joined with Beskyd and his supporters to create the Carpatho-Russian National Council in Presov. The council initially hoped to unite their Carpathian homeland with Russia, but by the following month it had openly called for the unification of Rusyn-inhabited lands with Czechoslovakia. Beskyd was included in Czechoslovakia’s delegation (January 1919) to the Paris Peace Conference, and in May he was elected chairman (in absentia) of the *Central Rusyn National Council. After October he remained head of that body’s Russophile faction.

Beskyd had expected to become the dominant political figure in *Subcarpathian Rus’, but the Czechoslovak government initially favored instead Gregory *Zhatkovych. Beskyd then founded the *Russian National party in Presov in May 1919, which was critical of the local Slovak administration and demanded the immediate unification of Slovakia’s Rusyns with Subcarpathian Rus’. Before the end of that year he had conducted a public relations tour among Rusyn immigrant communities in the United States. With their support, he was able to establish the Russian National Bank in Uzhhorod, of which he was director (1920-1925) until its merger with the Subcarpathian Bank five years later. During the early postwar years Beskyd was particularly active in Russophile-oriented cultural life as founding chairman (1920) of the school aid society, *Shkolnaia pomoshch’, and founding member of the *Dukhnovych Society.

When, in 1923, Beskyd was approached by the government, he agreed to cease criticism of the Czechoslovak regime and left the chairmanship of the oppositional Russian National party. In return, he was appointed the second governor of Subcarpathian Rus’, a position he held until his death a decade later. This was, in effect, a nominal post with no real political influence, a situation which Beskyd made no effort to change. During his administration Beskyd supported the Russophile orientation and the *Dukhnovych Society.

Bibliography: Stanislav Konechni, “V sluzhbakh naroda i shtatu: k 145 richnitsi narodzhinia dr. Antoniia Beskyda,” Rusyn, X, 5-6 (Presov, 2000), pp. 8-9.

Paul Robert Magocsi

Ivan Pop

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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