Sabuhi Abbasov, editor-in-chief of the 7news.az news portal, said in an interview to the demokrat.az website, "The foundation of the first democratic press in Azerbaijan was laid by the great leader Heydar Aliyev."
Fakt Yoxla examined whether the claim was true.
A democratic press is a pluralistic media that operates independently without being influenced by any authority on all issues, including socio-political issues.
From this point of view, the article will examine the media organizations that started their activities in two periods in the history of Azerbaijan:
a) Those who started their activities during the period of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR);
b) Those who began to operate in the period from 1989 to 1993, when the democratic movement began in Azerbaijan, close to the fall of the USSR.
Before touching on the press of these two periods, the name of "Molla Nasraddin" magazine, which was the first satirical magazine of Azerbaijan, which presented a critical position on social and political issues, should be mentioned.
The first issue of the magazine, founded by Jalil Mammadguluzade, was published in 1906.
Journalist Akif Ashirli's book entitled "Azerbaijan Press History" (1875-1920) informed about the press agencies founded during the ADR period.
According to that source, while only 40 newspapers were published in the period from the establishment of the "Akinchi" newspaper, the first example of the national press, to May 1918, during the 23-month rule of the ADR, the number of publications was close to 200 (p. 117).
During the mentioned period, Ahmad Bey Agaoglu published a newspaper entitled "Turk Yurdu" in Ganja (p. 120).
The first copy of "Azerbaijan" newspaper, in which information was given about the liberation of Baku from occupation and the brotherly assistance of the Caucasian Islamic Army, was printed in Ganja on September 16, 1918 (p. 121).
"Istiglal" was one of the newspapers published during the ADR period.
According to the mentioned book, 7 issues of this publication were published in 1918, 28 in 1919, and 15 in 1920.
The ideological-political direction, goals, and tasks of "Istiqlal" were explained in the main article by Mahammad Amin Rasulzade published in the first issue (p. 128).
As an example of the magazines published during the ADR period, "Ovragi-Nafisa" magazine, which was a monthly literary-artistic, social-political magazine and began to be published in 1919 (p. 128), "Gurtulush" magazine, the first issue of which was published in early 1920 and publication of which was stopped after the April coup of 1920 (p. 129), as well as "Sheypur" magazine, the first issue of which was published on October 5, 1918 (p. 129), can be mentioned.
Even before 1993, when Heydar Aliyev became the president of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan, there were examples of democratic media in Azerbaijan.
The first issue of "Azadlig" newspaper, founded by the Popular Front of Azerbaijan and the first editor-in-chief of which was Najaf Najafov, was published on December 24, 1989.
Another publication that began to be printed in 1989 was "Yeni Musavat" founded by Rauf Arifoglu.
"Sahar" newspaper, editor-in-chief of which was Mazahir Suleymanzade, was among the examples of the press that started publishing in 1989.
"Azerbaijan" newspaper, which was founded during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, was restored in 1989 by Sabir Rustamkhanli.
"Zerkalo", which is considered one of the independent Russian-language newspapers of Azerbaijan, was published in 1990 under the leadership of Elchin Shikhli.
"Aydinlig" newspaper, editor-in-chief of which was Babak Huseynoglu, was among those founded in 1990.
Turan News Agency, one of the first independent agencies in the former USSR, was founded in Baku in May 1990 by a group of journalists.
The first copy of "Hurriyet" newspaper, founded by Sardar Jalaloglu, was published in 1991.
Another example of the press, which began to be published in 1991, is the satirical newspaper "Cheshme", the editor of which was Ayaz Ahmadov.
"Istiqlal" newspaper, which is the organ of Azerbaijani social democrats, was founded in 1990 and operated until 1999.
Another example of the press that began to be printed in that period is the "525th newspaper". The founder of this publication, which began to be published in 1992, was Rashad Majid.
In addition to the mentioned press organizations, there were a number of other examples of democratic press founded in Azerbaijan until June 1993. We did not mention those publications in the article simply due to the lack of sources in the online database.
Thus, taking into account the publication of "Molla Nasraddin" magazine in 1906, examples of democratic press existed in Azerbaijan during the ADR period before Heydar Aliyev became the president of Azerbaijan, as well as from the end of the 1980s.
Fakt Yoxla concludes that Sabuhi Abbasov's claim is False.