Musavat

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MUSAVAT

Founded in secrecy in October 1911, Musavat (Equality) ultimately grew into the largest, longestlived Azerbaijan political party. The founders of the party were former members of Himmat (Endeavor) party, Azerbaijan's first political association, led by Karbali Mikhailzada, Abbas Kazimzada, and Qulan Rza Sharifzada. Formation of Musavat was a response to their disillusionment with the 1905 Russian Revolution. They were also inspired by a common vision of Turkic identity and Azeri nationalism.

Musavat attracted many of its followers from among Azerbaijan's bourgeoisie-intelligentsia, students, entrepreneurs, and other professionals; the party also included workers and peasants among its ranks. In 1917 a new party evolved from the initial merger of these former Himmatists and the Ganja Turkic Party of Federalists, as reflected in the organization's name, the Turkic Party of Federalists-Musavat. At this stage Musavat came under the leadership of Mammad Rasulzade and consisted of two distinct factions, the Left or Baku faction and the Right or Ganja faction. These factions differed on economic and social ideology such as land reform, but closed ranks on two crucial issues, one being secular Turkic nationalism. The other was the vision of Azerbaijan as an autonomous republic and part of a Russian federation of free and equal states. In April 1920, when Azerbaijan came under Soviet domination, the native intelligentsia were afforded some amount of accommodation in accordance with the Soviet nationalist program supervised by Josef Stalin. However, the accommodation only extended to the left wing of the Musavat party. Members of the right wing were subsequently imprisoned or killed. By 1923 the Musavat came under pressure from communist apparatchiks to dissolve the organization. Musavat members fortunate enough to flee formed exile communities in northern Iran or Turkey and remained abroad for the duration of the Soviet era. The self-proclaimed successor of the Musavat party, Yeni Musavat Partiyasi (New Musavat Party) was reestablished in 1992. Its leadership was drawn from the Azerbaijan Popular Front, an umbrella group representing a broad spectrum of individuals and groups opposed to the communist regime in the waning years of the Soviet Union and active in the post-Soviet transition. In the early twenty-first century Musavat is currently in the forefront of the opposition movement in competition with the Popular Front. Yeni Musavat is characterized as the party of the Azeri intelligensia and is led by Isa Gambar. The key planks of the party platform are the liberation of land captured by Armenian forces in the Karabakh conflict and forcing the resignation of Heidar Aliev's regime, which it views as corrupt and illegitimate.

See also: azerbaijan and azeris; caucasus

bibliography

European Forum. (1999). "Major Political Parties in Azerbaijan." <http://www.europeanforum.bot-consult.se/cup/azerbaijan/parties.htm>.

Suny, Ronald Grigor. (1972). The Baku Commune, 1917-1918: Class and Nationality in the Russian Revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Swietockhowski, Tadeusz. (1995). Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gregory Twyman