Military Review

Black city bombers. Revolutionary terror and expropriation of early twentieth century in Baku

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Baku was the largest industrial center of the Transcaucasus. Over 300 thousands of people lived here, a significant part of whom worked in the oil fields. The national composition of the population of Baku was also diverse. It’s not for nothing that they say that Baku residents are a special supranational community, akin to Odessans or Rostovites. Naturally, Baku did not pass the general rise of the revolutionary movement that took place in the Russian Empire in the early years of the twentieth century. But unlike in the cities of Central Russia, Armenian and Azerbaijani nationalists coexisted with the usual Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries here. Anarchists appeared in Baku - representatives of the extreme left-radical movement in the Russian revolutionary movement, who linked social liberation with the complete destruction of any state power. Strangely enough, but in a fairly traditional environment of Baku people, anarchist ideas gained some distribution, and among Baku anarchists there were many not only Russian residents of the city, but also Jews, Armenians, Georgians, and even Azerbaijani Turks and Persians. Modern Azerbaijani researcher I.S. Bagirova calls the approximate size of the anarchist movement in Baku at the beginning of the twentieth century around 2800 people - and this is without the Maximalist Socialist Revolutionaries, who in their ideological views and practice were very close to anarchists. At the same time, Bagirova notes that according to other estimates, the number of anarchists in pre-revolutionary Baku did not exceed 1400 people.

In the period 1904-1908. Baku became the main center of the anarchist movement in the Caucasus. Although anarchist groups and organizations operated in Tiflis, Kutaisi, Armavir, Novorossiysk, Yekaterinodar and many other cities, it was in Baku that the most numerous and active anarchist movement was formed. Of course, this was due to the large share of the industrial proletariat in the population of the city. In Baku, people from all over the Russian Empire flocked to work in the oil fields, which turned the city into a kind of “melting pot”. Difficult working conditions at oil rigs and factories forced workers to think about exploitation and struggle for their rights and interests. At the same time, as in every major commercial and industrial city, there was a rather numerous and influential criminal world in Baku. As they would say now, Baku’s organized crime has become the second main source of the formation of revolutionary movements in the city, primarily the anarchist movement, with the ideology of which professional criminals have related the total rejection of the state and state power, the negative attitude towards the police and the court, the tendency to expropriation and extortion .

Black city bombers. Revolutionary terror and expropriation of early twentieth century in Baku

Active anarchist agitation in Baku began in 1904, and in 1905, a number of anarchist organizations emerged in the city. They acted both in Baku itself and in its working suburbs - Bibi-Eybat, Balakhani and Black City. Recall that in pre-revolutionary Baku there was a clear division - wealthy citizens lived in the city center, where oil fields were banned, and in the suburbs of Balakhani, Bibi-Eybat and Chernoi the oil was produced. Workers lived there. “Everything is black, the walls, the earth, the air, the sky. You feel the oil, inhale the fumes, the pungent smell suffocates you. You walk among the clouds of smoke that obscure the sky, ”a contemporary described the general view of Baku’s Black City. Naturally, workers, dissatisfied with working conditions, often went on strike. During the general strike in the summer of 1903, more than 90 oil towers were set on fire in Baku, in December 1904 - more than 200 towers, and in August 1905 in Bibi-Eybat from 600 towers burned 480.

The Anarchy group appeared in Baku, the Struggle in Bibi Heybat, the Bunt in Balakhani, and the Internationale in the Black City. The Anarchy group of anarchist communists, which operated in Baku itself, was created by the workers of one of the local enterprises, who earlier sympathized with the Social Democrats, but rejected the parliamentary struggle and eventually switched to anarchist positions. The ideologue of the Anarchy group was Sarkis Kalashyants, a former member of the Gnchak Party, who published a pamphlet entitled “To the Fight and Anarchy” under the pseudonym “Sevuni”.

1 July 1906. As a result of the split, another anarchist organization was created in the Anarchy group - the Baku group of anarchists-communists Red Hundred. Its activists claimed that they had left the ranks of “Anarchy” because of the bureaucracy and indecision of the group members. The “Red Hundreds” were striving for more radical and successful, in the opinion of the “Red Hundreds,” methods of warfare. The “Red Hundred” was headed by V. Zeints and A. Stern. Also in Baku appeared smaller groups “Anarchists - bombers”, “Anarchists - individualists”, “Red flag”, “Bread and will”, “Terror”, “Earth and will”, “Black raven”, etc. The ethnic composition of the Baku anarchists of the time was variegated, as was the population of the city. Russians prevailed, but there were also numerous Armenians, Jews, Georgians in the groups (in the “Red Hundred” there were 8 Georgian revolutionaries). The group of anarchists "Azad" was Azerbaijani in composition. Armenians, as a rule, came to the anarchist movement from the nationalist and socialist organizations “Gnchak” and “Dashnaktsutyun”, disillusioned with their ideology and methods of struggle. As for the Jews, they came from social democratic and social zionist organizations.

Among the Azerbaijanis who joined the anarchist movement, there were many yesterday's robbers - “kochi”, who were politicized and decided to give an ideological focus to their activities. It was the former Kochi that formed the backbone of the Azerbaijani anarchist group Azad, which appeared in 1906 and consisted of 15 people. At the head of the group “Azad” were the brothers Aga-Kerim and Aga-Sanguli. According to the “old memory”, the “Azad” group was in confrontation with a group of criminals under the leadership of Teymur Ashurbekov. But when, at the end of 1907, the police arrested both Ashurbekov and Azad leader Aga-Kerim, the Azad anarchist group ceased to exist. A number of former Kochi, who were part of it, went to other groups. The average age of anarchists was somewhat older than in the western regions of the Russian Empire — about 28-30 years. This was due to the fact that in Baku, the main part of the movement’s activists were local workers, not students.

Intensification of the anarchist movement in the city was promoted by regular bloody clashes between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. The tsarist government has allocated 16 millions of rubles for the organization of assistance to victims of the massacre of Baku people. But the allocated funds were in the hands of the joint-stock company of manganese-industrialists, who in fact appropriated state money, refusing to give aid to Baku workers. The strike began, which lasted two months, but businessmen still did not want to share money. In the end, the anarchists killed the factory director I. Dolukhanov, and also attempted to assassinate the factory director Urkarta, who also was a British vice-consul. In the working environment of Baku this anarchist action was supported, and the businessmen, fearing the following attempts, were forced to pay the workers.

But Dolukhanov was not just an industrialist, but also a sponsor of the Armenian Dashnaktsutyun party. Naturally, the Dashnaks could not leave unpunished the murder of such a prominent figure associated with their party. In response to the death of Dolukhanov, in September 1906, the Dashnaks killed the leader of the Anarchy group, Sarkis Kalashyants, as well as several anarchist workers. A bloody war broke out between the two organizations, in which 11 anarchists and 17 Dashnaks died. After the death of the Kalashyants, the Anarchy group was also headed by Armenians H. Zakharyants and A. Ter-Sarkisov and Russian F. Yatsenko. In the same September, 1906, while trying to escape from prison, the leaders of the Red Hundred group, V. Zeints and A. Stern, were killed. After their death, the Red Hundred group was headed by Russian workers M. Zayachenkov and P. Studnev. In addition to the Dashnaks, the Green Hundred, an armed detachment hired by Baku businessmen to defend against the expropriations and attacks of revolutionaries, became a serious opponent of the anarchists.

The high-profile events related to Baku anarchists include the battle in the Sevastopol restaurant 11 in September 1906. A large number of anarchists from different groups arrived at this institution. However, the police, having learned about the event, surrounded the restaurant, calling for reinforcements in the face of the soldiers of the infantry battalion. A firefight began, as a result of which the police managed to arrest 38 people and found in the neighboring house a whole warehouse of small weapons. A large-scale repression against the Baku anarchist movement began, leading to the arrest of 88 people. At the same time, many anarchists managed to escape from the city. Some of them subsequently settled in Batumi, where, under the leadership of David Rostomashvili (“Black Datiko”), the Batumi Workers Syndicate of Communist Anarchists “Internationale” was created, borrowing methods of struggle of Baku anarchists.

In 1906-1908 Baku anarchists have committed many attacks, assassinations and murders. Most often, the victims of the attacks were the police. Thus, Baku’s anarchists killed the assistant chief of police Жghenti, police guards Kudryashov and Zavgorodniy, detectives Levin, Rachkovsky and Debtors, bailiffs Richter and Prokopovich, the superintendent of the prison Prokopenko, the policeman Pestov. In addition, the victims of the attacks were Swedish citizens Eklund and Tuasson, who worked respectively as a manager and engineer at the Nobel plant. Responsibility for these attacks was claimed by the Red Hundred group. Abram Stern, the Shlimak brothers, the Shishkin brothers, the Polyakovs, the Old Believers, and the Ter-Galustovs were the perpetrators of the killings. As you can see, the composition of anarchists - militants, to match with Baku, was also international. In addition, militants of the Anarchy and Struggle groups in 1906 killed the managers of the Bibi-Heybat oil fields Urbanovich and Slavsky, a secret police officer of Tavmisian. In December 1907, a bomb was thrown at Lieutenant Colonel Chernyshev, the police chief of Baku himself, who survived only by a lucky chance.

A bold attack by the anarchists on the mail ship "Tsesarevich", which belonged to the society "Caucasus and Mercury", became widely known. The expropriation was attended by members of the communist anarchists “Red hundred” I. Mdinaradze, N. Beburashvili, S. Topuria, G. Gobirahashvili. The captured funds went to the organization of assistance to striking workers and the organizational needs of the anarchist movement. After all, in addition to the “eksov” and attacks, the Baku anarchists tried to engage in propaganda activities, issuing leaflets, proclamations and brochures. The anarchist press of the time praised the “feats of the fallen fighters”, propagandized expropriation and assassination as a mandatory component of the revolutionary struggle. A characteristic feature of the Baku anarchists, as well as the anarchists of Transcaucasia in general, was a greater tendency toward expropriation and close ties with the criminal environment, compared with Western or Central Russia, a local flavor was felt.

Ultimately, it was criminalization that discredited the anarchist movement in Baku. K 1907-1908 such political groups as the Baku Society of Terrorists and Anarchist Individualists, Black Raven, Terror and Red Flag, which were more criminal than revolutionary and specialized in robberies of shops and firms, took over the palm of political organizations. As in the criminal world, clashes periodically arose between rival anarchist groups, ending in armed clashes. Anarchists died in exchanges of fire and fights with each other, which also contributed to the reduction of their authority in the working environment of Baku. In addition, the Social Democrats were gaining strength in the labor movement, who created for themselves the image of more thorough and serious fighters for the work. The Social Democrats waged an active ideological struggle against the anarchists, constantly exposing the criminal bias in the activities of the Baku anarchist groups.

After the defeat of the first Russian revolution of 1905-1907, in Baku, as well as in the whole country, mass repressions against the revolutionary movement began. Naturally, the first thing the police of the city dealt with anarchist groups. Only in March of 1908 by the Baku police were 50 arrested members of the Red Hundred group, who were sentenced to exile in Siberia. In 1909, the anarchist arrests continued, and during a search of the apartment of certain D. Veselov and E. Rudenko, explosives, bombs, underground literature were found. In the same 1909, the Baku police succeeded in arresting almost all members of the Black Raven, Terror, and Red Banner groups, who became famous for their series of robberies and robberies. Thus, after large-scale police repression in 1908-1909. the anarchist movement in Baku was actually crushed. The anarchists didn’t recover from the consequences of such a serious blow to the Baku anarchists - in the “oil capital” of the Caucasus, the movement of powerless supporters came to nothing and did not show serious activity even during the Civil War, which became the period of the revival of anarchism.
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  1. Aleksander
    Aleksander 14 June 2016 07: 47
    In March 1908, the Baku police arrested 50 members of the Red Hundred group, who were sentenced to exile in Siberia

    Absurd humanity: terrorists and murderers were sent only to exile in Siberia, in fact, to rest in full custody of the state.
    1. Alexey T. (Oper)
      Alexey T. (Oper) 14 June 2016 11: 21
      No evidence was found. So they were sent on the basis of operational information by decision of the Special Meeting of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, i.e. extrajudicial body.
    2. basalt16
      basalt16 14 June 2016 20: 23
      It’s enough to recall the years 1903 and 1905, when the Armenian terror swept the whole region in the Caucasus, dozens of Russian high-ranking officials were killed, bombs exploded, Dashnak terrorists carried out propaganda against tsarist Russia, and the Church of Echmiadzin came out in anti-Russian positions and even announced that it was ready to unite with European countries in the fight against the monarchy and tsarist Russia ...
      In 1742, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna issued a decree on the abolition of Armenian prayer houses and churches. What prompted the daughter of the great Peter, just 18 years after her father's decision to give special protection to the Armenians and resettle them to the Caucasian lands that had passed to Russia, to take such radical measures against them? Of course, there are separatist tendencies in the activities of the Gregorian Church. As for Nicholas I, he first, in 1828, abolished the Erivan and Nakhichevan khanates and created the Armenian region on their territories, but then he understood the dangerous consequences of this project for the Russian statehood. That is why in 1840 the tsar liquidated the geographical name "Armenian region" and divided it between the Caspian and Georgian-Imeretian provinces. And now let us look back 130 years. This time, another tsar, Alexander III, took decisive measures against Armenian nationalism and in 1882 gave appropriate instructions to the Minister of the Interior, Tolstoy. In the late 80s, by government order, almost all Armenians were dismissed from high government positions. In 1885, 160 Armenian parish schools were closed. In March 1889, a royal decree was issued on the exclusion of the history and geography of Armenia from school curricula.

      Let's go back 110 years. In 1902, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II issued a decree on confiscation of property of the Armenian church and on the closure of Armenian schools. The Russian Orthodox Church anathematized it!
      In 1902, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II issued a decree on confiscation of property of the Armenian church and on the closure of Armenian schools. The Russian Orthodox Church anathematized it!
      These tough measures were an adequate response to the insidious intentions of the Dashnaks to undermine the foundations of Russian statehood. The fact is that on the eve of the First Russian Revolution, caches of weapons, ammunition, and illegal printing houses were discovered in many Armenian churches and parishes throughout the Caucasus. The tsarist autocracy realized that the so-called "spontaneous" unrest in the Caucasus were controlled from abroad and carried out through Armenian organizations, mainly through the Dashnaktsutyun. From time to time, it would not hurt Moscow to remind that the USSR was destroyed not by Azerbaijanis, not by Uzbeks, and even not the Turks, but those same notorious Armenian friends who today are shouting more and more in Yerevan about how much bad Russia has brought on them, and from TV screens telling tales about unity with the Russian people, they burn the Russian tricolor.
      1. garnik64
        garnik64 15 June 2016 00: 15
        Nonsense. This was an ordinary redistribution of property. The lion's share of enterprises in the Caucasus belonged to the Armenians. There was a time when 70% of Baku oil belonged to them. The Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline was built by Armenian oil producers.
        And yet, on the territory of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Moscow, a bust will be set up for the Emperor of the Russian Empire Nicholas 2, for the salvation of a significant part of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.
        Armenians with nostalgia recall the former power of the Russian Empire. Without Russia there will be no Armenia. But the Turks and Azerbaijanis will be happy about the collapse of Russia.
        1. basalt16
          basalt16 15 June 2016 07: 06
          And the recent footage of the burning of the Russian flag was imagined? Or is it all Turkish propaganda? And the Russian tsars were "naive children"?
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 14 June 2016 07: 52
    Thank you, Ilya .. interesting review ...
  3. Alexey T. (Oper)
    Alexey T. (Oper) 14 June 2016 11: 25
    And Mr. Nobili ordered and paid for all this chaos, which became, according to its results, multi-politicians in the domestic and foreign markets for the circulation of oil products of the empire.
  4. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 14 June 2016 11: 50
    Thank you very much, Ilya, for another story about Azerbaijan. The circles of bombers and anarchists in Azerbaijan are new information for me.
  5. basalt16
    basalt16 14 June 2016 12: 43
    And we are constantly told about the Armenians slaughtered and intimidated in Azerbaijan. And they turned around there
    1. garnik64
      garnik64 15 June 2016 00: 26
      Your Azerbaijan was put on its feet by Russians and Armenians (mainly), otherwise you would have to live in a feudal society, like all Central Asian states (CIS)
      1. basalt16
        basalt16 15 June 2016 07: 16
        On April 2, 1997, General Lev Rokhlin, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, made a report at a meeting of the State Duma, in which he published data on the illegal arms shipments to Armenia in the amount of more than $ 1 billion, which caused a big scandal in the political circles of Russia. On July 3, 1998, Lev Rokhlin was killed by firearms at his own dacha near Moscow. Despite the fact that so far this has not been confirmed during the investigation, there is an opinion that the Armenians are also behind this terrorist act. interesting information about how Joseph Argutinsky (aka Hovsep Argutyan-Erkainabazuk) managed to persuade Emperor Paul I to take the Armenians under the royal protection. He brazenly lied to the tsar that during the service the Armenians allegedly pray for the Orthodox Russian emperor and his August house, and even composed a contrived prayer of the liturgy. Believing this lie, Paul! confirmed him in the dignity of the patriarch of the Armenians of Russia and even bestowed the Russian princely dignity on the Argutyan family. Since then, they have become Argutinski-Long-Arms. Since then, the Russians, out of ignorance, began to consider the Armenians "Orthodox brothers". This fraud was revealed almost 100 years later, in 1891. At the trial of the priest Ter-Voskakov, it turned out that in the Armenian service there is no and never was a prayer for the Russian Tsar. During the investigation of the Prosecutor of the Echmiadzin Synod, F. Frenkel, it was proved that the Armenians always performed the divine service according to the rite worked out by the Echmiadzin See, according to which only the Catholicos and Christians-Gregorians are glorified. And all other Christians, like the gentiles, are subject to damnation as "heretics and unbelievers." In 1912, a grandiose trial of the Dashnaktsutyun party took place in St. Petersburg with the involvement of 159 accused and 850 witnesses .. Imagine the scale of the bloody terror of Armenian nationalists in Russia in the first decade of the XNUMXth century!
  6. Beefeater
    Beefeater 14 June 2016 13: 42
    Yeah . Some kind of cesspool. I dare to suggest that such a situation was in all parts of the empire. The authorities released the reins.