National Salvation Day in Azerbaijan
Heydar Aliyev was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan. He led the country until 1982, when he was appointed to the post of First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. Although Aliyev fell from grace in 1987, he remained engaged in politics. In 1991, he began to govern his native Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, where he remained in power even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, newly independent Azerbaijan struggled with political instability, and after the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party came to power in 1992, it proved unable to control the tumultuous situation in the newly established republic. By the spring of 1993, the country found itself on the verge of civil war. Azerbaijanis began to demand Aliyev's reinstatement as state leader, prompting President Abulfaz Elchibay to invited Aliyev to return to Baku from Nakhchivan in June of that year. On June 15, 1993, Aliyev was appointed chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He managed to restore calm in the land, thus averting the impending civil war, and June 15 went down in history as National Salvation Day.
On June 24, Aliyev temporarily assumed the position of president. Following a nationwide election, Aliyev officially became the president of Azerbaijan in October 1993 and ruled the country for the next ten years.
National Salvation Day in Azerbaijan acquired official status in 1997, and in 1998 it became a public national holiday. Today it is commemorated with festive events held in large cities and remote mountain regions alike. Traditional Azerbaijani dances and games are organized, and in capital city Baku, the government arranges a military parade presided over by the president and a colorful evening fireworks show above the Caspian Sea shoreline. Yet most Azerbaijanis prefer to celebrate the holiday privately with friends and relatives, where a variety of dishes are prepared for family feasts by Azerbaijani women, famous for their culinary skills.