The bourgeoise-democratic revolution, which began with the strikes of workers and demonstrations in the capital of Russia- Petrograd on February 27, 1917, and ended with the victory after the autocracy collapsed. In the shaped new situation there began to form various political parties and national commitees too. In a short time, they began to print their lists and even their newspaper.
The collapse of autocracy was encountered with encouragement.
There was founded diarchy in the capital of the country, as well as in other regions after the revolution. This situation was characteristic for Southern Caucasus, including for Azerbaijan too.
Former deputes of Duma created Temporary Government in the capital. Due to govern the region of Southern Caucasus there was created Special Transcaucasian Committee-OZACOM (local government) by the order of Temporary Government on March 3, 1917. Ultra-left forces also shaped their organs. It was Caucasian Krai Centre of Soviets (KKSS) of workers, soldiers and peasantry deputees.
It is important to mention that various political trends, parties, social stratums took an active part in the first monthes after the revolution and protected the positions of Temporary Government by gaining its belief. At the same period bolshevics, menshevics parties and the party of esers restored their legal activity along with other ones.
There were created bodies, which represented both powers in Baku too. The Baku Soviet of Social Organizations, founded on March of 1917 was the local representatives of Temporary Government and OZAKOM. But, the Baku Soviet of workers and soldiers turned into the organ of revolutionary forces.
Neither of these Soviets decided and did its best to solve the national problem in Azerbaijan. Local population was not represented in these soviets and the Government approached to the interests of Muslim population of the country with antipathy during the creation of any governmental structures, as it was before.
Related with this, the party of “Musavat” began to wide political- organized activity in order to attract the nation to its side. With its initiative, Muslim organizations created Temporary Committee of Baku Muslim Social Organizations – TCBMSO at the end of March, 1918. “Musavat” turned into powerful political party, led national- democratic movement in Azerbaijan that attracted various stratums of Azerbaijan society to its side, without dependence of class and social positions.
Soon, after the fall of monarchy there was founded the Party of Turkish Federalists in Ganja. This party maintained an idea about the transformation of Russia into Federation of autonomous territories. The founder and leader of this party was Nasib bey Yusifbeyli.
Azerbaijan nation waited for many things from February bourgeoisiec-democratic revolution. Most people hoped that the revolution of 1917, would give to the nation equality and to subordinated peoples-autonomy. The idea of autonomy was firstly declared in Baku Congress of Caucasian Muslims in Aprel, and it was confirmed in the Congress of Russian Muslims, taken place in May of 1917, in Moscow.
When general Kornilov prepared to move his troops to the capital in order to abolish revolutionary democracy, it was encountered negatively in the regions. Due to protect the revolution, Executive Committee of Baku Soviet created special Bureau from its structure. Bolsheviks demanded that Bureau should be independent. In 30s, their demands turned into revolution. But when Mensheviks, esers and dashnaks protested against this, Executive Committee and Bureau retired. On the 1st of September, bolshevic revolution was rejected and Executive Committee gained belief. In that period, bolsheviks began to the struggle for realization of new elections for the bolshevization of Soviet Baku.
At the result of internal strife, Executive Committee of Baku Soviet again retired. In this case, the ultimation, which was designed by Bolsheviks and dashnaks expressed by the secretary of Executive Committee, Avakyan: “There whould be stay either me or Mandelshtam in Baku Soviet”.
There was elected Temporary Executive Committee under the leadership of S.Shaumyan. Two days later, Baku Soviet extended its authority with the initiative of Shaumyan.
In the eve of October revolution KKSS suggested to all executive committees of South Caucasus to create “Commitees of Social security” for fighting against contrrevolution. During the discussion of this problem, there began uprising and occurred the October revolution. The capture of authority by bolsheviks in Petrograd became the reason for their activization in Azerbaijan, especially, in Baku. Bolsheviks rose against the creation of Committee and demanded to give the authority to them.
On the 24th of October, Baku Soviet confirmed the Committee of Social Security – CSS, but on October 31, there was called new “enlarged” Conference of Baku Soviet by the initative of Shaumyan, where was discussed the dismissal of CSS. Bolsheviks, who invited their allies-representatives of industrial-plant committees and military committees to this assembly, accepted the resolution about the capture of the authority. After this event there began struggle between CSS and Executive Committee of Baku Soviet.
On November 2, Bolsheviks, who conducted new assembly of Soviet with the same structure for strengthening their positions proclaimed about the shape of Soviet authority in Baku. On November 7, at the result of the proclaimation of declaration about “the rights of nations to self-determination” the party of “Musavat” supported bolsheviks and strengthened their authority. The party of “Musavat” hoped to solve the national problem with this step, but bolsheviks delayed the solution of national problem by the iniative of Shaumyan.
Other governmental organizations of the cities prevented the achievement of monarchy of bolsheviks in Baku Soviet (Executive Committee of Social Organization, Urban Duma). That is why, bolsheviks did their best to abolish these organs; with this aim they accepted new law about elections, in December of 1917, realized new ballots to Baku Soviet, which provided their victory.
After October revolution, it became obvious that OZAKOM did not satisfy the demands of Revolutionary Committee of Bolsheviks. The Party of Georgian Social-democrats (mensheviks), “The Musavat”, “Dashnaksutyun” and right esers, which did not want to obey to the Soviet of People Comissaries of RSFSR declared their rejection about ratification of authority of bolshevik authority of Russia and accepted the decision about the creation of “Government of independent Trans-
Caucasus”. That is why, KKSS along with national organizations liquidated OZAKOM and created Transcaucasion Comissarieate on its place on November 11, 1917. E.Gegechkori (the chief) and A.Chkhenkili from Georgia, M.Y.Jafarov, Kh.Melikaslanov, Kh.Khasmammedov, F.Khoysky from Azerbaijan were included to this organ.
AZERBAIJAN IN THE SYSTEM OF STATEHOOD OF SOUTH CAUCASUS. MARCH GENOCIDE OF 1918, IN BAKU
The circumstances in Transcaucasus was difficult at the beginning of 1918. Transcaucasion Committee did not possess real authority in the region. Namely, that is why, it encountered with the necessity of self- liquidation soon. There was decided to create Transcaucasion Seim and submitting the whole authority to this organ in the assembly of deputees, who were choosen from South Caucasus in the all-Russian Assembly on January 22, 1918. The plenar assembly of Transcaucasian Seim took place on February 25, 1918, in Tiflis. Azerbaijan was represented by 44 representatives from 4 parties (Musavat, Ittihad, Hummet and Muslim Socialistic Block) in the Seim. Transcaucasian Seim formed Transcaucasian Government under the leadership of Georgian Menshevik, Gegechkori. The Azerbaijan fraction in Transcaucasian Seim was led by M.E.Resulzadeh. There were included four representatives of Muslim parties from Azerbaijan to the government.
So, the events, taken place in South Caucasus in the end of 1917 and at the beginning of 1918, influenced to political conditions of whole region, as well as to the activity of political parties. In this period, South Caucasus was divided into two camps: on one side, the city of Baku, which turned into column of Russian bolshevism; on the other side- remained territory of South Caucasus.
The authority of Transcaucasian Seim was weak. There was not union in the conduction of foreign policy too.
On December 5, 1917, there was signed an agreement between Trans-caucasian Comissariate and Turkish commanding. According to the provision of this agreement, Russian soldiers, who returned from Caucasian front, should be passed to Russia through Baku. As Russian army gave its weapons and military equipment to Armenians, Georgians and Baku bolsheviks, the Azerbaijan population became armless in front of the enemy. Simultaneously, a part of military servants consisted of Armenians. When Azerbaijan fraction demanded equal arming, the government agreed to give weapons of one Russian detachment to Azerbaijanis. In January of 1918, in the attempt of disarming of Russian detachment in the station of Shamkhor, in coherence with above- mentioned order, the soldiers resisted and there shaped confrontation; although there were losts from both sides, Azerbaijanis succeeded their aims.
But the circumstances in Baku became strained. There was needed to food. Baku Soviet began to form Red Guards from non Muslim- Russian spoken population. Along with this, there were concentrated several thousands armed Armenian soldiers in Baku.
On March 24, 1918, there came the detachment of Muslim division, commanded by general Talishinsky to Baku. By the order of Shaumyan, the detachment was arrested and then was liberated under the pressure of population with one provision that the detachment would direct to Lenkoran in the ship of “Evelina”. But the ship was shooted by Armenian-Russian seamen of Caspian navy.
Muslim political figures in Baku, who were able to struggle against Bolsheviks and Armenian parties were only Musavatists. The creation of Muslim Society by the intiative of Musavatists in the mid of March, threatened Bolsheviks and Armenians. They were ready to any provocation in order to realize confrontation and frighten Muslim people. Namely, that is why, the struggle of Musavatists for national authority and strengthening of their influence among Muslim population disturbed Baku Soviet.
In a respond to the bombing of the ship of “Evelina”, which directed to Lenkoran by Bolsheviks, Muslim population demanded to give back confiscated weapons and liberation of arrested men on the 24th of March. Bolsheviks accepted that demand. But, in order to lead future battles on March 30, there was created the Committee of defence of the revolution in Baku Soviet. In the evening of the same day there began shooting in Baku. “Dashnaksutyun” and Armenian National Soviet, which declared their neutrality before March massacre, proclaimed that, they passed to the side of Baku Soviet. At the result of Armenian propaganda-“destruction of Muslim people by Christians”- military ships of Caspian navy began to artillerial shooting of Muslim parts of the city-Zibilli-dere, the mosque of Teze-pir and the building of Ismailliyye.
Although, Muslim people realized the line of ceremonies in order to prevent this massacre, there occurred great massacres here.
Azerbaijan bolsheviks, who did their best to prevent massacres, met with bolshevic leadership, as well as with Shaumyan. N.Narimanov gave notifications to Shaumyan, the guilty of giving national character to these massacres. Neverthless, Muslim cities were destroyed, and armed Armenians realized real genocide against the civil population. Only, after the threats of Ottoman Empire about sending military forces to Baku, the massacres weakened and were moved to neighbourhood uyezds. During 3 days of massacres there were killed about 12-19 thousand, according to some sources-about 30 thousand Muslim people. As it was mentioned, the March genocide was not limited with the city of Baku.
Great massacres were organized in Shamakha, Quba, Khachmaz, Lenkoran and Salyan. Shamakha uyezd suffered most of all. Armenians burnt 72 villages and killed their population here. There were killed about 8 thousand Azerbaijanis. Then massacres extended to other regions of Azerbaijan – Ganja, Karabakh, Zengezur, Vedibasar, Zengibasar and etc..
Armenian-bolshevik forces pursued further ideas in the realization of March genocide in Azerbaijan. Their major goal was the conguest of whole Azerbaijan and re-settlement of Armenians to these territories.
The creation of Azerbaijan Republic on May 28, 1918, the restoration of national statehood and beginning of fought for territorial integrity concelled these plans.