Akinchi (Azerbaijani: Əkinçi / اکينچی), also transliterated as Ekinchi ("The Cultivator"), was an Azerbaijani-language newspaper, published in Baku (then part of the Russian Empire, now the capital of Azerbaijan) between 1875 and 1877. It was the first newspaper fully printed in Azerbaijani, as well as the first newspaper in Russia printed in a Turkic language.
Founded by journalist, teacher and scientist, and a Moscow University alumnus Hasan bey Zardabi, Akinchi was regarded almost as revolutionary not only as the first periodical published in Azeri, but for being also the means of reaching the masses. In order to make media accessible to lower classes, Zardabi propagated reforms in the literal Azeri language aimed at making it more vernacular by excluding bulky expressions and loanwords from Persian and Arabic used mostly in religious texts and classical poetry. Akinchi hence would often be subject to criticism by the literati who found its written style too colloquial.
The Russian governor of the Caucasus Dmitry Staroselsky sympathized with Zardabi's endeavours and supported him in the establishment of Akinchi. He was also the one proposing the name for the newspaper that in his opinion would convince the authorities that Akinchi was a non-political magazine that dealt with spreading agricultural technique. In addition to agriculture-oriented articles Zardabi published materials related to medicine and biology as well as editorials dealing with the social and cultural state of Muslims in the Caucasus. The first issue of Akinchi was printed on 22 July 1875.
Staroselsky's departure was a factor that among others contributed to the shutting down of the periodical on 29 September 1877. Other reasons were lack of sponsorship and low amount of readers (who would often be misled by the reactionist clergy into believing in the "sinful nature" of non-religious texts) despite the fact that the newspaper was given away for free. For the 26 months that it existed, Akinchi had attracted only 300 constant readers. Nevertheless its existence profoundly contributed to the development of journalism in Azerbaijan and the establishment of Azeri-language newspapers and magazines such as Ziya (in 1879), Ziya Gafgaziya (in 1880), Keshkul (in 1883), Sharg-i rus (in 1903), Irshad, Hayat (both in 1905), Fiyuzat, Takammul and Molla Nasraddin (all in 1906) after which the Azeri press entered a new stage of development.
- (Russian) Everything Began with Akinchi by Nigar Jafarova. Nash vek. 5 August 2005. Retrieved 19 May 2007
- Äkinjý and Azerbaijani Self-Definition by Evan Siegel. Originally published in Michael Ursinus, Christoph Herzog, & Raoul Motika (ed.), Heidelberger Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des modernen Vorderen Orients, vol. 27 (Frankfurt am Main, etc.: Peter Lang, 2001). Archived 2009-10-24.
- (Russian) Between Adaptation and Self-Assertion by Eva Maria Auch. Sakharov-center.ru
- (Azerbaijani) Several articles from Akinchi