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UN Envoy Forced Out of Crimea By Armed Men

A United Nations envoy has left Crimea after being threatened and briefly detained by armed men.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told reporters by phone from Kyiv Wednesday that special envoy Robert Serry, a Dutch diplomat, was leaving naval headquarters in Crimea when he was stopped and threatened by what Eliasson called "unidentified people," some of whom were armed.

Eliasson and James Mates, a reporter for Britain's ITN who was with Serry, said the official tried to return to his hotel on foot, but stopped into a cafe where he was detained briefly by men in combat fatigues who blocked the door. Serry was eventually allowed to leave the cafe after agreeing to leave Crimea immediately.

Mates said in a series of tweets, that Serry was taken to the airport by car, with police clearing a path through a crowd of pro-Russia demonstrators. He said the "very unpleasant incident" was over and quoted Serry as saying he was happy to leave Crimea if his actions helped de-escalate the situation.

Eliasson said Serry "felt physically threatened" during the incident, but is in good condition.

A VOA correspondent in Crimea said that the men who briefly detained Serry appeared to be part of the irregular, pro-Russian armed volunteer forces whose numbers have increased since the appearance of unidentified soldiers in the Crimea over the past week.

Those troops are widely believed to be Russian.

Also Wednesday, anti-European protesters gathered at the hotel in Crimea where representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were staying.