June Revolution

The June Revolution
Fan Noli, the leader of the revolution
Date June 1924–24 December 1924
Location Albania
Participants Albanian society

Albanian Orthodox leader Fan Noli's supporters blamed the murder of Avni Rustemi on Ahmet Zogu's Mati clansmen, who continued to practice blood vengeance. After the walkout, discontent mounted, and in June 1924 a peasant-backed insurgency had won control of Tirana. The June Revolution resulted in Noli becoming prime minister, and Zogu's flight to Yugoslavia.


Zogu Government (1922–24)

Interwar Albanian governments appeared and disappeared in rapid succession. Between July and December 1921 alone, the premiership changed hands five times.

The Popular Party's head, Xhafer Ypi, formed a government in December 1921 with Fan S. Noli as foreign minister and Ahmed Bey Zogu as internal affairs minister, but Noli resigned soon after Zogu resorted to repression in an attempt to disarm the lowland Albanians despite the fact that bearing arms was a traditional custom. When the government's enemies attacked Tirana in early 1922, Zogu stayed in the capital and, with the support of the British ambassador, repulsed the assault. He took over the premiership later in the year and turned his back on the Popular Party by announcing his engagement to the daughter of the Progressive Party leader, Shefqet Vërlaci. Zogu's protégés organized themselves into the Government Party. Noli and other Western-oriented leaders formed the Opposition Party of Democrats, which attracted all of Zogu's many personal enemies, ideological opponents, and people left unrewarded by his political machine. Ideologically, the Democrats included a broad sweep of people who advocated everything from conservative Islam to Noli's dreams of rapid modernization.

Opposition to Zogu was formidable. Orthodox peasants in Albania's southern lowlands loathed Zogu because he supported the Muslim landowners' efforts to block land reform; Shkodër's citizens felt shortchanged because their city did not become Albania's capital, and nationalists were dissatisfied because Zogu's government did not press Albania's claims to Kosovo or speak up more energetically for the rights of the ethnic Albanian minorities in present-day Yugoslavia and Greece.

Zogu's party handily won elections for a National Assembly in early 1924. Zogu soon stepped aside, however, handing over the premiership to Vërlaci in the wake of a financial scandal and an assassination attempt by a young radical that left Zogu wounded. The opposition withdrew from the assembly after the leader of a radical youth organization and popular liberal leftist politician, Avni Rustemi, was murdered in the street outside the parliament building.[1]

Noli's Revolution and his downfall (1924)

Noli's supporters blamed the murder of Avni Rustemi on Zogu's Mati clansmen, who continued to practice blood vengeance. After his widely attended funeral, discontent mounted, and in June 1924 a peasant-backed insurgency ended up taking control of Tirana. Noli became prime minister, and Zogu subsequently fled to Yugoslavia.

Fan Noli, an idealist, rejected demands for new elections on the grounds that Albania needed a "paternal" government. In a manifesto describing his government's program, Noli called for abolishing feudalism, resisting Italian domination, and establishing a Western-style constitutional government. Scaling back the bureaucracy, strengthening local government, assisting peasants, throwing Albania open to foreign investment, and improving the country's bleak transportation, public health, and education facilities filled out the Noli government's overly ambitious agenda. Noli encountered resistance to his program from people who had helped him oust Zogu, and he never attracted the foreign aid necessary to carry out his reform plans. Noli criticized the League of Nations for failing to settle the threat facing Albania on its land borders.

Under Fan Noli, the government set up a special tribunal that passed death sentences, in absentia, on Zogu, Vërlaci, and others and confiscated their property. After Noli's regime decided to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, a bitter enemy of the Serbian ruling family, Belgrade began making allegations that the Albanian regime was about to embrace Bolshevism.[2] In Yugoslavia, Zogu recruited an Albanian volunteer militia, primarily made up of Albanian clans loyal to Zogu.[3] Belgrade furnished the Albanian leader with weapons, and he hired a mercenary army of about 1,000 Yugoslav Army regulars, and Russian White Army émigres to mount an invasion that the Serbs hoped would bring them disputed areas along the border.[2] The most experienced of these forces was the Russian contingent, which was led by General Sergei Ulagay[4] and consisted of 102 soldiers, including 15 officers.[3] He recruited them for the role of being an artillery squadron, where they signed a 3-month-long contract, and got paid through gold.[3] Zogu was recommended by the Yugoslavs to have the experienced World War I veteran, Colonel Ilya Miklashevsky, in leading it.

On 13 December 1924, Zogu's Yugoslav-backed army crossed into Albanian territory. From the other side, Myfid Libohova with the support of the Greek government launched an offensive and entered Kakavija.[2] A major battle erupted in the village of Peshkopi, where Noli's reserve army was headquartered. During that time, the Russians helped make a decisive victory.[3] After a short break, Zogu launched an attack on the capital with his forces. Noli's army became demoralized and made minimal progress.[3] By Christmas Eve, Zogu's Russian contingent entered Tirana, defeating the remaining pockets of resistance.[3] Zogu had reclaimed the capital and abolished the principality in favour of a republic, ending Noli's six-month government. Noli and members of his regime then fled to Italy.[2]


After defeating Noli's government, Ahmet Zogu recalled the parliament, in order to find a solution for the uncrowned principality of Albania. The parliament quickly adopted a new constitution, proclaimed Albania a republic. The Constitution provided for a parliamentary republic with a president serving as head of state and government. Ahmet Zogu was elected president for a term of seven years by the National Assembly, prior to his proclamation King of Albanians.

On January 31, Zogu was elected president for a seven-year term. Opposition parties and civil liberties disappeared; opponents of the regime were murdered; and the press suffered strict censorship. Zogu ruled Albania using four military governors responsible to him alone. He appointed clan chieftains as reserve army officers who were kept on call to protect the regime against domestic or foreign threats.


  1. Robert Elsie (2010). Historical dictionary of Albania. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0-8108-6188-6. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Robert Clegg Austin (2012). Founding a Balkan State: Albania's Experiment with Democracy, 1920-1925. University of Toronto Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-4426-4435-9.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The Tragedy of Albania's Russian Community". Russkiy Mir Foundation. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  4. ″Врангелове команде у Врању и Скопљу″. // Politika, 4 December 2017, p. 19.
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