Azərbaycan Respublikası / Azerbaycan Cumhuriyeti

Azerbaijan became the third democratic republic in the Turkic world and Muslim world, when it was founded in Tiflis on 28 May 1918 after the collapse of the Russian Empire. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920 as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The modern Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991, shortly before the dissolution of the USSR in the same year. 


During the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a violent crackdown on a civilian polulation occured on 19 – 20 January 1990, after Soviet troops entered Baku. Mikhail Gorbachev and the Defence Minister asserted that military law was necessary to thwart efforts by the Azerbaijani independence movement to overthrow the Soviet Azerbaijani government. According to official estimates 147 Azerbaijani civilians were killed, 800 people were injured and five people went missing. However unofficial number put the number of victims at 300 dead. The events became known as Black January (Qara Yanvar). While in Moscow, Ayaz Mütallibov was appointed as the First Secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party, which in May was elected as the first president of Azerbaijan SSR. By December, at Mütallibov’s initiative, the Supreme Council officially renamed the country to Azerbaijan Republic and adopted a Declaration of Sovereignty.

The Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1991 and in September Mütallibov dissolved the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. He proposed constitutional changes for direct nationwide presidential elections, which he won in a single-candidate election. In December, Azerbaijan was recognized as an independent state by Turkey, Israel, Romania and Pakistan.

On 25 February 1992, Armenian forces took control of Xocalı with the support of Russia’s 366th Motor Rifle Regiment, after which fleeing residents become victims of the Xocalı Massacre. Under pressure from Azerbaijan Popular Front due to mismanagement in defense of Xocalı and safety of its inhabitants, Mütallibov was forced to submit his resignation to the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. Armenian forces take control of the last Azerbaijani populated town (Şuşa) on 8 May 1992. Six days later, the Supreme Council, dominated by the former members of the Communist Party, hears the case of the Xocalı Massacre and relieves Mütallibov of any responsibility. His resignation had been reversed and is restored as the President of Azerbaijan. Armed forces led by the Azerbaijan Popular Front took control of the offices of the Parliament, thereby deposing Mütallibov, on the following day. Mütallibov left for Moscow. A new National Assembly was formed, dissolving the Supreme Council. While Armenian forces took control of Laçın, Isa Gambar is elected as the Chairman of the National Assembly and takes on the presidential duties until the national elections the following month.

The presidential elections of 1992 was won by Əbülfəz Elçibəy with 54% of votes, out of seven candidates. Elçibəy became the first democratically elected, non-communist president. During the summer, Elçibəy secured the full withdrawal of the Soviet army from Azerbaijan, becoming the first and only formed Soviet republic after the Baltic states to do so. A Caspian Navy was established, while reaching an agreement with Russia on receiving one-quarter of the Soviet Caspian Navy based in Baku. During Operation Goranboy, the Azerbaijani army established control of over 40% of the region by the fall of 1992 and approaching within 7 kilometers of Şuşa. When Azerbaijan pushed further into Qarabağ, controversy, mismanagement, corruption and treachery of Minister of Defense Rəhim Qazıyev started playing a role. This led to unexpectedly heavy casualties and loss of heavy military equipment on Azerbaijan side, resulting in the failure of the campaign. Others, like Minister of Internal Affairs İsgəndər Həmidov proved incompetent and resigned.

Some troops under Huseynov rebelled agains Elçibəy and were advancing onto Baku. President Elçibəy invited Heydər Əliyev to Baku on 9 June 1993 for negotiations with Huseynov. Əliyev quickly took control of the power, becoming the Chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament on 15 June 1993 and giving a chair of the Prime-Minister of the country to Huseynov. In the vacuum of power left by Elçibəy’s departure to Naxçıvan, Əliyev took constitutional presidential powers. He signed the Bishkek Protocol to cease hostilities on the frontline and further solidified his power by organizing impeachment hearings and holding a national referendum on 29 August 1993. This referendum formally stripped Elçibəy of his presidency. During the national election on 3 October 1993, Heydər Əliyev was elected as president of Azerbaijan with 99% of the votes.