Musavat

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Musavat

 

(Equality), a counterrevolutionary bourgeois-nationalist party in Azerbaijan. It was organized in Baku in 1911 as the Musavat Muslim Democratic Party, and its founders and leaders included M. Rasul-zade, G. Sharif-zade, and A. Kiazimzade. The party’s program called for the creation of a single Muslim state under the aegis of Turkey that would include Azerbaijan. During World War I, however, the party’s leaders urged Muslims to bring the war “to a victorious end,” which in effect meant that they had abandoned their former Pan-Islamic and Pan-Turkic ideas.

After the February Revolution of 1917, the party called for a “Russian democratic republic” without national autonomy. In June 1917 it merged with the Turkic Party of Federalists (the merger was confirmed at the First Congress of Musavat on Oct. 26 [Nov. 8], 1917) and began to call itself the Turkic Democratic Party of Federalists and Musavatists. The congress adopted, with minor changes, the program of the Federalists’ party, according to which the future Russian state was envisaged as “a federative democratic republic based on national autonomy.” By preaching nationalism and class harmony within the Azerbaijani nation and stirring up enmity between peoples, Musavat sought to deflect the Azerbaijani working people from the revolutionary struggle. The social composition of Musavat was not homogeneous. In addition to the big bourgeoisie and landowners, it included the petite bourgeoisie, the nationalist intelligentsia, and the backward strata of the peasantry, who had been deceived by propaganda.

The party’s central committee included M. Rasul-zade, G. Gudzhinskii, N. Usubbekov, and G. Agaev. Its main press organ was the newspaper Istiglal (Independence). Members of Musavat joined the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies with the aim of strengthening their influence among the Turkic masses. During the Civil War of 1918–20, Musavat was one of the chief counterrevolutionary forces in Azerbaijan. After Soviet power was established in Baku on Oct. 31 (Nov. 13), 1917, the Musavatists staged a revolt on Mar. 18,1918, but were defeated. In early May 1918 they formed a government in Tbilisi, and on May 27, 1918, they proclaimed the independence of Azerbaijan. In June 1918 the government was transferred to Giandzha and, supported by British interventionists, it continued its struggle against Soviet power in Azerbaijan. After the overthrow of Soviet power in Baku on Sept. 15, 1918, and the expulsion of the British by Turkish troops, power in Azerbaijan nominally passed to the Musavatists. In actuality a dictatorship of the Turkish military clique was established.

After Turkey surrendered to the Entente, the Turkish forces withdrew from Baku, and on Nov. 17,1918, the British interventionists reentered the city. With British support the Musavatists abolished the socialist changes adopted by the Baku Commune of 1918, established a regime of terror, and helped the interventionists plunder the country’s oil and other resources. The Second (and last) Congress of Musavat, held in December 1919, revealed that the party was undergoing a crisis. A left wing had formed within the party and many of its members had left the party. In August 1919 the British interventionists were obliged to leave Azerbaijan. The Musavatist counterrevolutionary regime was overthrown by the insurgent populace in April 1920. After the establishment of Soviet power in Azerbaijan, Musavat ceased to exist. Many Musavatists emigrated, and some of them continued their anti-Soviet activities abroad.

REFERENCES

Gusseinov, M. D. Tiurkskaia demokraticheskaia partiia federalistov “Musavat” v proshlom i nastoiashchem, issue 1. Tiflis, 1927.
Raevskii, A. Partiia “Musavat” i ee kontrrevoliutsionnaia rabota. Baku, 1927.
Istoriia Azerbaidzhana, vols. 2–3. Baku, 1960–63.

DZH. B. GULIEV