top of page

History of Azerbaijan

Prehistory and Antiquity / Middle Ages / Safavids, Khanates and Russian Empire / ADR / Soviet Azerbaijan/ Independent Azerbaijan


Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

At the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, the Transcaucasian Republic was founded with the leading Armenian and Georgian intelligentsia. After a short span of time, the republic was dissolved, and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was proclaimed on 28 May 1918 by the leading Azeri Musavat party. The name of "Azerbaijan", which the leading Musavat party adopted, for political reasons, was prior to the establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918 exclusively used to identify the adjacent region of contemporary northwestern Iran.

This was the first Democratic Republic established in Islamic World. In Baku, however, a coalition of Bolsheviks, Dashnaks and Mensheviks fought against a Turkish-Islamic army led by Nuru Pasha. This coalition known as the "Baku Commune" also inspired or tacitly condoned the massacres of local Muslims by well-armed Dashnak-Armenian forces. This coalition, however, collapsed and was replaced by a British-controlled government known as Central Caspian Dictatorship in July 1918. As a result of battles in August–September, on September 15, 1918 the joint forces of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and Ottoman Empire led by Nuru Pasha entered Baku and declared the city as a capital of young Azerbaijani state. This event has always been considered one of the most honorable pages of the Azerbaijani history.

Azerbaijan was proclaimed a secular republic and its first parliament opened on December 5, 1918. British administration initially did not recognize the Republic but tacitly cooperated with it. By mid-1919 the situation in Azerbaijan had more or less stabilized, and British forces left in August 1919. However, by early 1920, advancing Bolshevik forces, victorious in Russian Civil War, started to pose a great threat to young republic, which also engaged in a conflict with Armenia over the Karabakh.

Azerbaijan received de facto recognition by the Allies as an independent nation in January 1920 at the Versailles Paris Peace Conference. The republic was governed by five cabinets, all formed by a coalition of the Musavat and other parties including the Socialist Bloc, the Independents, the Liberals, the Social-Democratic Party Hummat (or Endeavor) Party and the Conservative Ittihad (Union) Party. The premier in the first three cabinets was Fatali Khan Khoyski; in the last two, Nasib Yusifbeyli. The president of the parliament, Alimardan Topchubashev, was recognized as the head of state. In this capacity he represented Azerbaijan at the Versailles Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Aided by Azeri dissidents in the Republican government, the Red Army invaded Azerbaijan on April 28, 1920. The bulk of the newly formed Azerbaijani army was engaged in putting down an Armenian revolt that had just broken out in Karabakh. 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, it has to be noticed that the installation of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was made easier by the fact that there was a certain popular support for Bolshevik ideology in Azerbaijan, in particular among the industrial workers in Baku. The same day a Soviet government was formed under Nariman Narimanov.

Natioanl museum of history of Azerbaijan:


Prehistory and Antiquity / Middle Ages / Safavids, Khanates and Russian Empire / ADR / Soviet Azerbaijan/ Independent Azerbaijan

bottom of page