Author: Mirabbas MAMMADOV Baku
During the 70 years of Soviet rule any mention of his name in Azerbaijan was taboo. Even his closest relatives, who were able to see him and chat with him in private, were shy of talking about him. The name of this man - a general in the tsarist army, deputy interior minister of the ADR and Oriental scientists scholar Mahammad Sadig bay Agabayzada - has now been revived by Gular xanim Abdullabayova, professor of the Institute of Literature. She discovered documents about his life and work in the archives of the Krakow branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences at the end of the 1980s. An article she prepared based on these documents was presented to the academic public in "Reports of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijani SSR" in 1989.
A street in Lviv
Twenty-five years have passed since those times, but today, most regretfully, all we have are a few scanty facts about the life of this gifted military leader and academic. M. Agabayzada (according to documents of the tsarist government and the period of the ADR, Sadig bay Agabayov - Author) reached the rank of major-general, but his full service record has still not been found. Some "blame" for the lack of information about Agabayzada lies with the man himself. Clearly, he was as modest as he was gifted. He wrote his own autobiography in December 1939 on 28 standard sheets of paper. From this we learn that the future general was born in 1865 and that he lived with his father Ismail in the municipality of Geokchai. He graduated from a non-classical secondary school in Baku in 1882. "I then completed courses at infantry and artillery academies in the former St Petersburg in 1886. Later - in 1899, to be precise - I completed three-year courses at the Institute of Oriental Languages at the Main Headquarters of the War Department in St Petersburg. I started out as a sub-lieutenant in 1886 in the artillery in the Caucasus. After completing my course in oriental languages in 1899 I served in Turkestan and the Transcaspian Region until the end of 1913, when I retired at my own request. I then lived permanently in Goycay in the Baku Guberniya.
In 1919 I was appointed temporarily to the post of deputy minister in the government of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic. In 1920 I went to Istanbul and stayed with my cousin, Alibay Huseynzada, a professor of the medical academy in Istanbul. From 1921 I lived in France where I completed my education in the French language and taught Turkish and Persian at the same time. In 1927 I arrived in Lviv after being invited by the Jan Kazimierz University. In February 1927 I started teaching at Lviv University as a lecturer in Turkish and Persian, practice and theory, and Arabic - elementary practical grammar."
As professor Abdullabayova remarks, while he was working at Lviv University, Agabayzada wrote "A Textbook of the Turkish Language", "A Textbook of the Persian Language" and "A Grammar of the Arabic Language" in Polish. Earlier, in 1904, while serving in Turkestan, he wrote "A Book of Turkmen Idioms (Akhalteki dialect), with an appendix of sayings and proverbs". In 1943 Agabayzada was struck down by a serious illness and died within a year. He was buried in Lviv. The following inscription is on his gravestone in Turkish and Polish: "Here lies buried General and Professor Mahammed Sadig bay Agabayzada (Agabayov)". A street in Lviv is named after him.
The "cast-iron logic" of the Bolsheviks
Since they first came to power in Azerbaijan in April 1920, the Bolsheviks pressurized members of the families who were still in the country and relatives of well-known political and public figures who had quit the country. Agabayzada's family was no exception. On 13 May 1920, on the instructions of the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal (SRT), Haci Ilyas, the chief of the Baku Municipal Workers and Peasants Militia, R. Huseynov, ordered the brother and nephew of Agabayov, Rahim bay Ismail bay oglu Agabayov and Huseyn bay Rahim bay oglu Agabayov, to be imprisoned in the Baku gaol "for harbouring their former comrade (deputy) minister of the interior, Sadig bay Agabayov". "I had no reason to hide my brother from the new rulers. He retired at the beginning of April and went to Batumi in order to go on to Germany for treatment. This is easy to check. We signed a testimony that Sadig was not only not in Baku, he was not in the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic, and if our statement is proved to be incorrect we are prepared to answer to the law and undergo the most severe revolutionary punishment," Rahim bay told the chief of the municipal police.
The investigation then brought a new charge against Agabayov - they said that father and son did not harbour Sadig, but "organized his escape from the country". The chief of police brought the same charges against Vladimir Fedorovich Kulak, in whose apartment Rahim bay Agabayov was living, Ilya Samaryevich Levit, a friend of Rahim bay's, Grigoriy Samoylovich Brodskiy, a friend of Levit's, and the landlord, Sergey Osipovich Dildarov. In Huseynov's opinion, the aforementioned persons simply had to know about Sadig bay's "escape" and, accordingly, warn the new authorities about it. The fact that the new rulers didn't exist when Sadig left was not taken into account.
Following their "cast-iron" logic, on 17 May 1920, the chief of police committed Kulak, Levit, Brodskiy and Dildarov to Bayil prison. Sadig bay's second brother, Hazrat bay, was also arrested "for organizing Agabayov's escape". However, he was soon charged with counter-revolutionary activities and a separate case was brought against him. A 13-year old pupil, Hasan Agabayov, a nephew of Sadig bay and Rahim bay, who lived in his uncle's flat, was also questioned in the "case of Agabayov's escape". "I am a pupil in class 5 of secondary school No 2, I live with my uncle Rahim bay Agabayov, and with the holidays coming up I suggested going to see my father in Ucar district. I know nothing about my uncle's commercial and private affairs," he told the investigation.
However, on 22 May the investigation had to release all the detainees from prison, with the exception of Rahim bay and Huseyn bay: the charges against Kulak and Dildarov were dropped and Brodskiy was bailed out. Camil Vazirov, the people's commissar for post and telegraph, and Apresov, deputy people's commissar for justice, stood bail for Brodskiy.
Power among thieves
The charges brought against Rahim bay of harbouring Sadig bay and helping him escape proved to be unfounded, and so he had to be released. But, no. Now, Rahim bay Agabayov was charged…with speculation. After their arrest and confinement to prison Rahim bay and his son Huseyn bay were searched at their apartment in house No 179 on Gimnazicheskaya (now Tolstoy) Street. According to the records, "one gold cigarette case, six gold bracelets, 22 gold rings, 14 gold watches, six bracelets without labels, one gold chain with an emerald medallion and one diamond ring in it, 177 silver 20-kopeck coins, 95 10-kopeck coins and one silver rouble" were found. The fact that Rahim bay had so many valuables was easily explained. He was a wealthy merchant: he had a flour mill, a rice-cleaning mill and a cotton-cleaning plant in Ucar, another cotton-cleaning plant in Goycay, a joint (with the aforementioned Levit) oil-pressing mill and soap factory in Baku, a hostelry and bath house in Goycay and also several dozen shops. In 1918-1919 he was appointed agent to the General Persian Consulate in Nizhniy Novgorod. After numerous petitions by relatives, Huseyn was released from custody on 13 June. At the time of these events he was a first-course student at the medical faculty of Baku State University. After completing his studies he stayed on at a department of the clinic of obstetrics and gynaecology at the university. He defended his thesis, became a professor, ran the department and was head of the treatment and prophylactics department of the medical institute. In 1941-1942 he served in the war in the Crimea and was twice shell-shocked. He was awarded the Order of the Labour Red Banner and medals. He died in 1956 at the age of 58.
On 11 July, on the orders of the people's commissar for education Dadas Buniatzada, Rahim bay Agabayov was also released. And on 14 March, the SRT ordered the case against the Agabayovs to be terminated. When the investigation was over, Rahim bay Agabayov tried to recover the valuables taken from him, saying they were hereditary. But it was in vain. All the valuables, with the exception of the gold cigarette case, were handed over to state ownership.
The secret of the gold cigarette case
On 15 May, i.e. the day after the search of Rahim bay Agabayov's apartment and the confiscation of his valuables, deputy chief of police Chkheidze drew up an act: "15 May, 1920. I, comrade Chkheidze, deputy chief of police of Baku, have drawn up this act as follows: appearing before me is comrade Khutulashvili (party name Volodya), authorized by the Central Committee, who was presented with gold and diamond articles confiscated from Rahim bay Agabayov, residing at the corner of Gimnazicheskaya and Maryinskaya Streets. Among the articles confiscated by comrade Khutulashvili (at that time specially authorized representative for political control of units of the Azerbaijani army, and since December 1920 simultaneously member of the board of the Revolutionary Military-Field Tribunal - Author) was identified a gold cigarette case, selected by the Musavat government during its arrival in Baku from Astrakhan at the end of November, 1919. This gold cigarette case was handed over by me to comrade Khutulashvili in the presence of Yepifan Kvantaliani (first deputy of people's commissar for military and naval affairs Qarayev - Author)." The act is completed with signatures. Investigator Ismayilov several times asked for the cigarette case to be entered on the record as evidence, but all to no avail, and so it fell into the hands of a now power-invested communist "who suffered at the hands of the Musavat government".
P.S. Photo courtesy of the Archives of the Krakow Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences