Region: Russia Area
Group: Russian Revolution
Prior Regime: Transcaucasian Federation
1918, May 28 – Declaration of Independence
1918, Aug/Sept – Battle of Baku
1918, Dec 7 – First Meeting of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic Parliament
1919, Aug 19 – British Forces leave Baku
1920, Apr 25 – Red Army invades Azerbaijan
1920, Apr 28 – Republic of Azerbaijan dissolved and Azerbaijan SSR created
Following Regime: Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic
Scott Catalogue: (Azerbaijan) #1-10
Pick Catalogue: (Azerbaijan) #1-8
Upon the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and the subsequent October Revolution, the provinces of the Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) seceded from the Empire and formed their own federal state called the Transcaucasian Federation. Due to bitter infighting between the regions, the union only lasted for 6 months. On 26 May, 1918, Georgia declared independence followed two days later by Armenia and Azerbaijan on the 28th, thus dissolving the federation. This day is still commemorated by both countries as Republic Day.
The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was formed, however its short history was mainly one of conflict rather than consolidation. Numerous territorial disputes with its neighbors, the highly prized oil fields which existed within the country and the ongoing battle between the Red and White Armies never gave the fledgling Republic a chance.
Beginning in the Summer of 1918, the Armenians, supported by the British, and the Turkish Army fought the Battle of Baku, which didn’t allow the ADR to actually have a capital until Sept 1918. Baku was occupied by the British until mid 1919, where things began to stabilize. British forces left on 19 Aug, 1919.
Azerbaijan tried to remain neutral with regards to the Russian Civil War, even signing a defensive treaty with Georgia on 16 Jun, 1919 against the White troops of General Anton Denikin’s Volunteer Army who were threatening to start an offensive on their borders. Denikin, allied with the Armenians, were trying to drag the rest of the area into the Russian conflict, however in Jan 1920, Denikin’s army was completely defeated by the Red Army.
By March 1920, it was obvious that the the emerging Soviet Russia would attack the much-needed Baku. Vladimir Lenin said that the invasion was justified by the fact that Soviet Russia could not survive without Baku oil.
After a major political crisis, ADR Cabinet resigned on 1 Apr 1920. On the 25th of April the Russian Red Army invaded Azerbaijan; marching into Baku two days later demanding the the dissolution of the Azerbaijani Parliament. On Apr 28th, the ADR complied and the Republic ceased to exist. Immediately, the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (Azerbaijan SSR) was formed, as the Red Army met little resistance from Azerbaijani forces, which were tied up on the Karabakh front.
Initially, the Bolsheviks formed three separate states: Armenia SSR, Azerbaijan SSR and Georgia SSR, but at the insistence of Stalin, on 12 Mar, 1922, the three states were again joined to form the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. The “independence” of TSFSR was also short lived, for on Dec. 29, 1922, the Russian SFSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR joined to form the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR).
A set of 10 stamps were issued in Oct 1919. The 10 values had 4 different designs, a solder with a flag, a farmer at sunset, the city of Baku and the Temple of Eternal Fires. The issues were issued in thin, white paper and is known as the Moussavat Issue, named after the ruling political party.
After the Republic of Azerbaijan was taken by the Bolsheviks in April, 1920, the new Soviet government reissued the set of 10 stamps on thick grayish paper. Two of the issues, the 5r and 10r had inverted ornaments on the left side of the design.
The Scott catalogue does not distinguish between the different paper colors.
During the time of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, a series of 5 banknotes were issued: 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 Rubles. The bills were printed in Russian and Azerbaijani, and interestingly, on the 500r note the denomination was also printed in French. The currency was used (along with a Soviet issue in 1920) until they were replaced by banknotes from the USSR.
Azerbaijan International – Chronology of Major Events (1918-1920)
History of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan Stamps at Stamp Collecting Blog
South Caucasus Currency Bills in 1919-1923
Azerbaijan – bigblue1840-1940.blogspot