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Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

Azərbaycan Demokratik Respublikası
Coat of arms of Azerbaijan
Coat of arms
Motto: Bir kərə yüksələn bayraq bir daha enməz!
The flag once raised will never fall!
Anthem: Azərbaycan Marşı
March of Azerbaijan
Map of Azerbaijan including disputed territories with Armenia and Georgia issued in Baku for Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
Map of Azerbaijan including disputed territories with Armenia and Georgia issued in Baku for Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
Capital Ganja (until Sep 1918)
Common languages Azerbaijani
Government Parliamentary republic
Prime Minister  
• 1918–1919
Fatali Khan Khoyski
• 1919–1920
Nasib Yusifbeyli
• 1920
Mammad Hasan Hajinski
• 1918
Mammed Amin Rasulzade
• 1918–1920
Alimardan Topchubashev
Historical era Interwar period
• Independence
28 May 1918
• Soviet invasion
28 April 1920
1918 99,908.87 km2 (38,575.03 sq mi)
• 1918
Currency Azerbaijani manat
ISO 3166 code AZ
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic
Azerbaijani SSR
Today part of  Armenia

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR; Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Demokratik Respublikası) also known as Azerbaijan People's Republic (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Xalq Cümhuriyyəti) was the first successful attempt to establish a democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world (before the Republic of Turkey). The ADR was founded on May 28, 1918 after the collapse of the Russian Empire that began with the Russian Revolution of 1917 by the Azerbaijani National Council in Tiflis, Georgia. Its borders were with Russia in the north, Democratic Republic of Georgia in the north-west, Democratic Republic of Armenia in the west, and Persian Empire (Iran) in the south. It had a population of 2.86 million. Ganja was the temporary capital of the Republic as Baku, which is the de jure capital, was under Bolshevik control.

Under the ADR, a the government was a parliamentary system in which a parliament, called the Milli Majlis (National Assembly of Azerbaijan) elected on the basis of universal, free, and proportional representation, was the highest political institution of state authority and the Council of Ministers was responsible before it. Fatali Khan Khoyski became its first prime minister. Besides the political party Musavat who had the majority in parliament, other political parties were Ehrar, Ittihad, Muslim Social-democrats as well as representatives of Armenian (21 out of 120 seats), Russian, Polish, Jewish and German minorities gained seats in the parliament. Some members supported Pan-Islamist and Pan-Turkist ideologies.

Among the important accomplishments of the parliament was to give women the right to vote, making Azerbaijan the first Muslim nation to give women equal political rights with men. Apart from this accomplishment, Azerbaijan made these reforms earlier than the United Kingdom and the United States. Another important accomplishment of ADR was the establishment of Baku State University, which was the first modern-type university founded in Azerbaijan.

End of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, 1920

By March 1920, it became clear that Soviet Russia would attack and invade Azerbaijan. The Soviet Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin said that the invasion was justified by the fact that Soviet Russia could not survive without the Baku oil fields, which was at that time the largest oil field in the world with more than half of the world's oil reserves. According to the common opinion in Moscow, Russian Bolsheviks were to "help" the Baku proletariat (workers) in overthrowing the "counter-revolutionary nationalists", meaning the government and the state of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

After a major political crisis, the Fifth Cabinet of Ministers of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic resigned on April 1, 1920. On April 25, 1920, the Soviet Russian 11th Red Army crossed into Azerbaijan, entering Baku on April 27. They demanded the closing of the Azerbaijani parliament and set up their own Bolshevik government headed by Nariman Narimanov. To avoid bloodshed, the members of parliament had to agree with the demand and the ADR officially ended on April 28, 1920, giving way to the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR) as its successor state. The Red Army met very little resistance in Baku from the Azerbaijani army, which was tied up on the Karabakh front. The first Communist government of Azerbaijan consisted almost entirely of native Azerbaijanis from the left-wing political factions of the Hummat and Adalat political parties.

In May 1920, there was a major rebellion against the occupying Soviet Russian 11th Red Army in Ganja, who wanted to restore the Musavatists to power. The rebellion was crushed by government troops by May 31. Leaders of the ADR either fled to the Democratic Republic of Georgia, which was the last independent Caucasian country that was invaded in 1921 by Soviet Russia, then to Turkey and Iran, or were captured by Bolsheviks, like Mammed Amin Rasulzade, who was later allowed to emigrate (leave the country), or were executed (killed) like Gen. Selimov, Gen. Sulkevich, Gen. Agalarov, a total of over 20 generals, or assassinated by Armenian terrorists like Fatali Khan Khoyski and Behbudagha Javanshir. Most students and citizens travelling abroad remained in those countries never to return again to their country. Other important ADR military leaders like the former Minister of Defense General Samedbey Mehmandarov and deputy defense minister General Ali-Agha Shikhlinski (who was called "the God of Artillery" ) were at first arrested, but then released two months later thanks to efforts of Nariman Narimanov. Gen. Mehmandarov and Gen. Shikhlinsky spent their last years teaching in the Azerbaijan SSR military school.

In the end, "the Azeris did not surrender their brief independence of 1918-20 quickly or easily. As many as 20,000 died resisting what was effectively a Russian reconquest." However, the founding of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was made easier by the fact that there was a certain popular support for Bolshevik ideology in Azerbaijan, among the industrial workers in Baku.

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