STEPANAKERT — President Bako Sahakian of Nagorno-Karabakh, on Tuesday ordered the local police to investigate their violent response to dozens of opposition activists from Armenia who attempted to enter Karabakh at the weekend.

Speaking at an emergency meeting with senior officials in Stepanakert, Sahakian at the same time effectively defended the use of force against them, which has drawn strong condemnations from the Armenian opposition, media and human rights activists.

A motorcade of some 30 cars carrying leaders and members of the Yerevan-based group Founding Parliament was stopped by the Karabakh police at Armenia’s border with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) on Saturday. An Internet video of the incident shows that some of the oppositionists were beaten up despite not attempting to break through the police cordon. Many of the cars were vandalized by uniformed policemen and plainclothes men even as they sped away from the scene.

A statement by Sahakian’s office quoted the NKR leader as saying that his security forces “had to take appropriate measures” in order to prevent clashes between the Founding Parliament activists and Karabakh Armenians unhappy with the group’s decision to take its campaign for “regime change” in Armenia to Stepanakert. “Unfortunately, we failed to prevent disturbances and clashes that have had a public resonance,” he said.

According to the statement, Sahakian went on to instruct his police chief, Kamo Aghajanian, to launch a “meticulous internal inquiry” into the incident. Sahakian will draw “necessary conclusions” as a result of that probe, it said.

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