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History of the Press


For a long period Tbilisi was the administrative and cultural center of the South Caucasus and it affected the media and literature as well. Till the publication of the first Russian newspaper in Baku, all the facts concerning the economic and cultural life of Azerbaijani people were reflected in the Russian newspapers published in Tbilisi. Beginning with the 20s of the XIX century, articles concerning the literary life of Azerbaijan people were published in the “Tifliskie vedomosti”, “Zakavkaskiy vestnik”, “Kavkas”, “Novoye obozreniye” and other newspapers.  
“Tifliskie vedomosti” was the first newspaper in the Caucasus and was published in Russian. The newspaper published informations on the decabrists participation and the deputy editor of the paper V.D.Sukhorukov’s close relations with the 14 December events. The scientists researching Russian-Azerbaijan literary relations spoke of the “Tifliskie vedomosti” newspaper as well. The paper was published in Georgian language in 1929, in the Persian in 1930, and in Azerbaijani in 1932. The name of the language in Azerbaijani was “Tiflis exbari” (“Tbilisi news”). 
Economic and social development of Azerbaijan in the II half of the XIX century made the formation of national media very necessary.  Hasan bekh Zerdabi, the outstanding educationist,  who perceived this necessity, applied to the government and though with great difficulties, managed to get permission for the publication of a newspaper. For the publication he had to brought new arabian printing fonts from Turkey and after great difficulties, managed to publish the first issue of the newspaper in the Baku governor publishing house on June 22, 1875. The publication of “Ekinchi” newspaper laid the foundation of Azerbaijan media. The “Ekinchi” newspaper, which was published till July 22, 1877, published 56 issues in total. The newspaper was published twice in a month with 300-400 copies. 
The publication day of the first national press agency “Ekinchi” newspaper- 22nd June is celebrated as the “Day of Media” in the Republic. 
“Ekinchi” newspaper published the articles written by Nejef bekh Vezirov and Esger aga Gorani from Moscow, Seyyid Azim Shirvani and Mohammedtagi Alizadeh Shirvani from Shirvan region, Heyderi from Derbend, and Mirze Fatali Akhundzadeh from Tbilisi.  
During the putbreak of Russian-Turkey war in 1877-1878, the Russian government did not want the existence of a newspaper in “turkic-tatarian” language and officially ended the publication of “Ekinchi” on September 29, 1877. Later, “Ziya” and “Keshkul” newspapers were published.
“Keshkul” was in an intermediary position between “Ekinchi” and “Ziya”, but was more inclined to the “Ekinchi”. The formation of the notion “Azerbaijani people” in the consciousness of the intellectuals coincides with the publication period of “Keshkul”. They realized that “religion” and “nation” are different notions. “Keshkul” tried to highlight these issues in its pages and helped the development of socio-political consciousness. “Keshkul” published articles of positive nature on the development of Azerbaijan nation and the strengthening of friendship relations with other nations. The majority of these articles differed for their theme, ideas, language and style, passion.
From 1870 till 1889, there were 56 press agencies in the Caucasus. 20 of them were in Russian, 15 in Georgian, 15 in Armenian, 3 in Azerbaijani. If we take into account the publications of scientific societies, office and organizations, this figure would be 69. The majority of these agencies lived very short. Only 23 press agencies functioned more than 5 years. The Russian publications are the following: “Caucasus”, “Tifliskiy vestnik”, “Tiflisskie obnavlenia”, (“Tiflisski listok”), “Kaspi”, “Yurisicheskoe obozrenie”, “Bakinskie izvestiya”, (“Bakinski torqovi-promishlenni listok”), and “Northern Caucasus”.
The newspapers published in Russian in Baku were in the same row with the papers published in other cities of the Caucasus from the idea and political point of view. The first Russian newspaper published in Baku is “Bakinski listok”. The editor of the paper was Christian Sink, the teacher of Baku Real Gymnasium. The first issue of the paper was published on March 19 (6), 1871, and was closed in June. In January, 1872, the paper re-started publication and lasted till June 3 of the same year. 
The second newspaper in Russian “Bakinskie izvestiya” was published in 1876 in Baku. The newspaper was the official press body of the Governor office and was issued on the initiative of General-governor D.S.Staroselski. Staroselski had supported the publication of “Ekinchi” in 1875 as well. His objective in the publication of “Bakinskie izvestiya” was to give more information to the readers on Baku province. He had established a printing house at the governor office and invited publishers long before the publication of the paper. After 1888, the paper was published under the name of “Bakinski torqovi-promishlenni listok”. 
In January 1894, “Bakinskie qubernskie vedomosti” was published as an official state newspaper. The paper was published with the addition of telegram and announcements. A part of these telegram and announcements were issued in Azerbaijani. The paper was published until 1916. 
The mentioned newspapers mainly published official news, orders, announcements, and telegrams. Among the Russian language newspapers published in Baku, “Kaspi” had longer life and reflected the social life in different periods from its own point of view.  Within the period from 1881 till 1919, 10.065 issues of the newspaper were published. 
After Keshkul“ was closed, there were several initiatives to establish a press organization in Azerbaijani in Tbilisi. For example, in 1896, Mammadaga Shahtaxtinski attempted to publish “Tbilisi”, in 1900 Kamal Unsizadeh “Speak” newspapers. However, their initiatives were unsuccessful. 
The first issue of the paper, which M.Shahtaxtinski called “Sherqi-rus” was published on March 30, 1903. Initially, the paper was published thrice in a week. Since June 8, 1904, it had become a daily newspaper. “Sherqi-rus” is the first Azerbaijani newspaper of the XX century, as well as the first daily newspaper in Azerbaijan. 
One of the historic publications of Azerbaijan media is the “Molla Nasreddin” magazine, which never gets old with its ideas and their method of realization. The main aim of Jalil Mammadquluzadeh, the editor of the magazine, was to see the nation on the level of modern world. “Molla Nasreddin” was established to struggle for these objectives. The first issue of the magazine was published on April 7, 1906. The articles in the magazine were the satirical expression of the tricks played to thr nation, the difficulties, and unjustices. 
The first issue of the magazine was published in 1.000 copies and in short time “Molla Nasreddin” became very famous amng population. Thus, the second issue was published in 2.000 copies. 
Jalil Mammadquluzadeh kept white the place of pictures or materials, the publication of whish was not allowed by the censordhip, or wrote in the following way: “This place is white due to the reasons that do not depend on us”.
The result of Jalil Mammadquluzadeh brave speeches was that on June 8, 1907, Tbilisi General-governor ordered to close the magazine. This resulted in great disagreement among population. Letters demanding the restoration of the magazine were sent to Tbilisi from Baku, Sheki, Saouth Caucasus.
After a short period, the 23th issue of the magazine was published on 25 July. There were several initiatives for closing “Molla Nasreddin” magazine in 1908-1909. 
In 1920, Jalil Mammadquluzadeh moved to South Azerbaijan together with his family. He restored the publication of the magazine in Tabriz In February 1921. 8 issues of “Molla Nasreddin” were published in Tabriz. 
“Molla Nasreddin” was published in Baku in November 1922 on the initiative of the Soviet government and was published here till 1931. The last issue of the magazine was published on January 7, 1931.
In total, 170 issues of “Molla Nasreddin” were published in Tbilisi, 8 in Tabriz, and 398 issues in Baku after the establishment of the Soviet government.
After “Molla Nasreddin” was published, several satyrical and humorous magazines were published in the Caucasus, Middle East, Volga region, Iran and Iranian Azerbaijan, Dagestani under the magazine’s influence. The majority of these journals were the decent followers of “Molla Nasreddin” and spread revolutionary and democratic ideas. However, some satirical magazines failed to go ahead from liberalism and were published on a low level.
On November 29, 1911, a new child magazine was published under the name “Mekteb” (“School”) (See: Media for children).
After the Soviet regime was established in Azerbaijan on November 29, 1920, magazines including “Maarif” (only 2 issues were published) and “Red sun” (later “Golden youth”), which were published in 1921, “Young pioneer” published in 1923, “Pioneer” in 1927, and  “Azerbaijani pioneer” newspaper, etc played an important role in educating the new generation.

Soviet period of the media
More than 20 bolshevik newspapers were published in 1919. “News of Baku Worker Conference, “Azerbaijani jouth”, “Freedom”, “Rights”, “Voice of labor”, “October revolution”, “Young worker”, “The poor of Azerbaijan” in Azerbaijani, “Nabat”, “Molot”, “Proletari”, “Rabochi put”, “Qolos truda”, “Bednota”, “Molodoy rabochi”, “Novi mir”, etc in Russian were the newspapers that the bolsheviks published in Azerbaijan. These newspapers lived for a very short period, some of them published only one or several issues. “Communist” newspaper appeared as the follower of Bolshevik newspapers, such as “Hummet”, “Qoch-Devet”, “Tekamul”, “Yoldash”, “Hummet” (1917-1918).
“Communist” paper was first published on August 29, 1919. Azerbaijani Bolsheviks published “Communist” secretly, without the government permission. After the Soviet government was established in Azerbaijan, “Communist” was legally published with Aliheydar Qarayev’s editorship on April 30, 1920.
In the first years of the Soviet government in Azerbaijan “Communist” and “Bakinski rabochi” (“Baku workers”) papers often published materials concerning the provinces of the country. The first issue of “Kendchi qazetesi” (“Peasant newspaper”) was published on June 16, 1923.In order to get the Eastern women, especially the Azerbaijani women used to the socio-political life, Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist (bolsheviks). Party made a decision to publish the monthly literary, social and political magazine “Eastern woman” on June 2, 1923.
The 40 page 1st issue of “Eastern woman” was published in Nowember 1923 in 1000 copies. Ayna Sultanova was the first editor of the magazine. Beginning with 1938 “Eastern woman” had been published as “Azerbaijani woman”.
The Conference of Baku Komsomol Organization was summoned in 1926. On the reference day, a group of active pupils prepared a 28-page magazine, on which the word “Pioneer” was written. The conference participants liked the magazine with only 50 copies, written with the pupils’ script.
These copies became the first messenger of “Pioneer” magazine. After a few months, in February 1927, “Pioneer” was published in mass circulation.
“Kommunist maarifi” (“Communist education”) was published on September 2, 1934. In 1938, the newspaper was renamed as “Teachers’ paper”. The paper was published under this name till June 1941. From April 1946, the paper was published under the name of “Azerbaijani teacher”. 
“Sports” paper, which has the greatest history in sports media, is one of the oldest publications of Azerbaijan media. 
“Sports” newspaper, which was first published in 1932 under the name of “Azerbaijan physical trainer” (“Fizkulturnik Azerbaydjana”), is more than 70 years old. 
In the following years, “Literature” (1933), “Azerbaijani pioneer” (1938), “Hedgehog” (“Kirpi”) magazine (1932), “Baku” (1958), etc were published.
The newspapers published in different cities and regions in the Soviet period: Baku – “Baki”, “Baku”; Gandja – “Kirovabad communist”; Nakhchivan – “Soviet Nakhchivan”; Khankendi – “Soviet Garabakh”; Mingechevir – “Mingechevir lights”, “Ogni Mingechevira”; Sumgait – “Socialist Sumgait”, “Sumgait communist”; Agjabedi – “Suret”; Agdam – “Road of Lenin”, “Agdam”; Astara – “Soviet Astara”; Absheron – “Absheron”; Agdash – “Labor”; Agsu – “Unity”; Ali-Bayramli – “Light”, “Mayak” (“Beacon”), Berde – “Road of communism”; Balaken – “Happy life”; Oguz – “Lenin banner”; Goychay – “New life”; Dashkesen – “Dashkesen”; Jalilabad – “New day”; Jabrail – “Kolkhozchu”; Devechi – “Qurucu”; Culfa – “Victory”; Yevlakh – “Initiative”; Beylaqan – “Rise”; Zakatala – “Red banner”; Zengilan – “Rural life”; Zerdab – “Cotton grower”; Sherur – “Light way”; Ismayilli – “Hard-working”; Imishli – “Golden star”; Qazakh – “Victory banner”; Gedebekh – “Development”; Goranboy – “Fighter”; Qakh – “Waterfall”; Kelbecer – “Innovation”; Quba – “Glow”; Qubadli – “Avangarde”; Qusar – “Golden Qusar”; Qebele – “Victory”; Kurdemir – “Forward”; Lachin – “Lachin”; Lenkeran – “Leninchi”; Lerik – “For abundance”; Masalli – “Challenge”; Terter – “Golden banner”; Neftchala – “October banner”; Ordubad – “New Ordubad”; Bilesuvar – “Product”; Sabirabad – “Mugan”; Saatli – “Turn”; Salyan - “Victory”; Tovuz – “Truth”; Ucar – “New word”; Fuzuli – “Araz”; Khachmaz – “Friendship”; Khanlar – “Communist labor”; Shemkir – “Star”; Sheki – “Sheki worker”; Shamakhi – “New Shirvan”, “Noviy Shirvan”; Shusha – “Shusha”; Shahbuz – “Advanced”; Yardimli – “New village”; Babek – “Banner of labor”, etc.
Some newspapers were renamed for several times. 

The modern media
The atmosphere of reconstruction in the whole USSR came to Azerbaijan as well and effected the social environment. “Azerbaijan” paper was established in 1989, which is historically considered the period of revival of the nation. “Azadliq” newspaper, which is considered the messenger of independent press, was first published on December 24, 1989. Najaf Najafov, the well-known journalist, was the leader of the newspaper. 
In 1990, “Zerkalo” (“Mirror”), “Sound” in 1991-1992, “New Musavat”, “Two coasts”, “Newspaper 525”, “New Azerbaijan” newspapers were published. 
With the special order of President Heydar Aliyev signed on August 6, 1998, censorship on Azerbaijan press was cancelled. Moreover, in 1999, the law of Azerbaijan Republic on “Mass Media” and other legal-normative acts were adopted.
With the July 31, 2008 Order of President Ilham Aliyev, an important document – “State Support Concept to the Development of Mass Media in Azerbaijan Republic” has been approved. In accordance with the Conception, the State Support Fund to the Development of Mass Media under the President of Azerbaijan Republic was established.
Today, up to 4500 press bodies have been registered in the Ministry of Justice.

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