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Persian Socialist Soviet Republic

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Persian Socialist Soviet Republic

Ёмҳури-е Сҳурави-е Сосиалисти-е Ирâн
جمهوری شورایی سوسیالیستی ایران [1]

(Soviet) Republic of Gilan[2]
The Gilan Republic[3]

Ёмҳури-е Ирâн
Jomhuri-e Irân
Flag of Socialist Republic of Persia
Anthem: The Internationale
Location of Gilan, where the Persian SSR was declared, in Iran.
Location of Gilan, where the Persian SSR was declared, in Iran.
StatusUnrecognized state
GovernmentSocialist Republic
• 1920–21
Mirza Koochak Khan
Historical eraInterwar period
• Socialist Republic declared
May 1920
February 1921
• Disestablished
September 1921
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Qajar Iran
Qajar Iran
Today part of Iran

The Persian Socialist Soviet Republic (Persian: جمهوری شوروی ایران‎), also known as the Soviet Republic of Iran or Socialist Soviet Republic of Gilan,[4] was a short-lived unrecognized state, a Soviet republic in the Iranian province of Gilan that lasted from June 1920 until September 1921. It was established by Mirza Koochak Khan, a leader of the Constitutionalist movement of Gilan, and his Jangali (Jungle Movement) partisans, with the assistance of the Soviet Union's Red Army.

Background and history[edit]

The Jungle movement that had started in 1914 was further boosted and gained gravity after the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia. In May 1920 the Soviet Caspian Fleet led by Fedor Raskolnikov and accompanied by Sergo Orzhonikidze entered the Caspian port of Anzali. This mission was declared to be only in pursuit of the Russian vessels and ammunition taken to Anzali by the White Russian counter-revolutionary General Denikin, who had been given asylum by British forces in Anzali. The British garrison in Anzali was soon evacuated without any resistance and the British forces retreated to Manjil.

Faced with the conflict between his movement and the united British and central government forces, the Iranian revolutionary Kuchik Khan considered several choices. Mirza had considered seeking support from Bolsheviks when a year before he traveled on foot to Lankaran to meet with them but by the time he arrived in that city, the Red forces had been forced to evacuate.

Amongst the Jangalis, there were many who felt that the Bolsheviks offered a real solution to the problems shared by both Russia and Iran, namely the domination of the upper classes and the Imperial Court. Kuchik Khan's second-in-command, Ehsanollah Khan Dustdar, had become a communist and an ardent advocate of an alliance with the Bolsheviks. Kuchik Khan, though hesitant and cautious towards such an idea due to both his religious and nationalist background, accepted and the Jangalis entered into an agreement with the Bolsheviks.

This cooperation with the Soviet revolutionaries was based on some conditions including the announcement of the Persian Socialist Soviet Republic under his leadership and lack of any direct intervention by the Soviets in the internal affairs of the republic. The Soviets agreed to support him with ammunition and soldiers. Mirza offered to pay for the ammunition but the Soviets refused any payments.

Declaration of the Republic[edit]

In May 1920, the Soviet Republic of Gilan, officially known as the Socialist Soviet Republic of Iran, came into being. The Republic did not redistribute land to poor peasants which was considered as a conservative position by the more radical forces of the Jangal movement. Therefore, soon disagreements arose between Mirza and his group of advisors on one side and the Soviets and the Communist Party of Iran (evolved from the Baku-based Edalat (Justice) Party) on the other.

Stamp of Iranian Soviet Socialist Republic, 1920, showing the legendary rebel Kaveh the blacksmith - one hand holding a hammer, and the other anachronistically waving the Republic's Red Flag.

On June 9, 1920 Mirza Kuchik Khan left Rasht in protest and also to avoid military confrontation (which he had always avoided as much as possible, even while fighting with the central government forces) and opened the way for the Communist (Edalat) party to set a coup d'état. The new administration, formally under Ehsanollah Khan but actually under the influence of Abukov (the Soviet Commissar) started a series of radical activities such as anti-religious propaganda, or forcing money out of the rich landlords.

Conservative elements characterized these measures as simply the latest features of longstanding Russian interference in the region, and the middle-class were antagonized by the level of violence, disrespect for property, and the Russian ties of the Jangali movement. The Republic also lost support from the general population due to the exceedingly high number of war refugees who began flooding the urban centers, thus posing a significant economic problem.

First Cabinet[edit]

  • Mohammad taghi Pir bazari – Finance commissioner
  • Mir shams el din vaghari (Vagahr ol saltane) – Interial commissioner
  • Seyyed Jafar Some'e sarai (Mohseni) – Foreign commissioner
  • Mahmud Reza – Justice commissioner
  • Abolghasem Rezazade (Fakhraei) – Trade commissioner
  • Nasrollah Reza – Post & telegraph commissioner
  • Mohammadali Gilak (Khomami) – Public benefits commissioner
  • Ali Habibi – Police chief
  • Dr. Mansur Bavar – Health head chief
  • Mirza Shokrollah khan Tonekaboni (keyhan) – Research chief
  • Amir taka – Head of war commission

Coup d'état[edit]

Mirza's efforts to resolve the bloody disputes by sending a petition through a delegate of two of his men to Soviet premier Vladimir Lenin[5] did not result in a resolution. By 1921, and particularly after the agreement achieved between the Soviet Union and Britain, the Soviets decided not to further support the Soviet Republic of Gilan. The Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship (1921) was then signed, ensuring peaceful relations between the two countries and resulting in the withdrawal of Soviet forces.

Reza Khan Mirpanj, who had initiated a successful coup d'état with Seyyed Zia'eddin Tabatabaee several days beforehand, then began reasserting central government control over Gilan and Mazandaran. The Soviet Republic of Gilan officially came to an end in September 1921. Mirza and his German friend Gauook (Hooshang) fled alone into the Alborz Mountains, and died of frostbite. It is said that his body was decapitated by a local landlord and his head was displayed in Rasht to establish the government's new hegemony over revolution and revolutionary ideas.[citation needed]

Historical analysis[edit]

Historians have tried to analyze the factors that contributed to the demise of the Jangal movement. Some of the main studies including those by Gregor Yeghikian and Ebrahim Fakhrayi (Minister of Culture in Kuchik Khan's Cabinet of the Soviet Republic) suggest a role for both extremist actions taken by the Communist (Edalat) Party that provoked opposing religious sentiment among the public, and Mirza Kuchik Khan's religious and at times somewhat conservative views on collaboration with the Communist Party as possible factors.

It has been suggested also that the change of policy on the Soviet side regarding pursuing global revolution (as advocated by Trotsky) versus establishing and protecting the Soviet Union was the main reason for them to withdraw support from the Gilan Republic. The second option got more support and therefore Soviets signed the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement with the British in London (1921) which required them to retreat from Northern Iran. Correspondence between Theodore Rothstein,[6] the Soviet ambassador in Tehran, and Mirza Koochak Khan clearly supports this view.[7] As part of his peace making efforts, Rothstein had also sent a message to the Soviet officers among Ehsanollah Khan's one thousand strong force that had made its way towards Qazvin, not to obey his orders and as a result that campaign was defeated.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ervand Abrahamian (2008) «A history of modern Iran» Cambridge University Press, Page 59-61
  2. ^ Mattair, Thomas (2008). Global Security Watch—Iran. Praeger Security International. p. 7. ISBN 9781567207576.
  3. ^ Hunter, Shireen (2004). Islam in Russia. Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 317. ISBN 9780765612823.
  4. ^ Mattair, Thomas (2008). Global Security Watch—Iran. Praeger Security International. p. 7. ISBN 9781567207576.
  5. ^ "Koochak".
  6. ^ Behrooz. SFSU. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008.
  7. ^ Ebrahim Fakhrayi.[citation needed]


  • George Lenczowski (1968). Russia and the West in Iran. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-8371-0144-1.
  • Nasrollah Fatemi (1952). Diplomatic History of Persia. Russell F. Moore. ASIN B0007DXLE2. LCCN 52011977.
  • Ebrahim Fakhrayi, Sardar-e Jangal (The Commander of the Jungle), Tehran: Javidan, 1983.
  • Gregor Yaghikiyan, Shooravi and jonbesh-e jangal (The Soviet Union and the Jungle Movement), Editor: Borzouyeh Dehgan, Tehran: Novin, 1984.
  • Cosroe Chaqueri (1994), The Soviet Socialist Republic of Iran, 1920-21, University of Pittsburgh Press, OCLC 831417921, OL 25431986M
  • Vladimir Genis, Krasnaia Persiia: Bol'sheviki v Giliane, 1920-1921. Dokumental'naia khronika (Moscow 2000).
  • Cronin, Stephanie, "Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran: New Perspectives on the Iranian Left. Routledge, 2004.

External links[edit]