Armed Men Corner UN Envoy Robert Serry in Crimea

By ABC News

Mar 5, 2014 2:45pm

By Micah Grimes

A television crew documented a tense confrontation between a U.N. envoy in Crimea and a group of armed and menacing men who chanted pro-Russia slogans.

The men first blocked the car carrying United Nations envoy Robert Serry in Ukraine, and reports quickly circulated that Serry had been kidnapped. ITV News Europe Editor James Mates took to Twitter to give a first-hand account of what was happening:



Initial reports stated Serry had been “abducted” or “kidnapped” by armed men during a Wednesday visit to the embattled Crimea region, but Mates set the record straight with 14 tweets in just over an hour, as he waited in a coffee shop with Serry. Serry and Bates walked there after being accosted by what were described as armed and unarmed men who blocked his vehicle:





U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson confirmed in a call to reporters in New York that Serry was “threatened” in Crimea, but Eliasson denied reports he was kidnapped. Eliasson said Serry refused demands to leave Crimea.

Though Serry had not been abducted, a large crowd grew outside the coffee shop, Mates reported, leaving Serry and those with him in a tense and precarious situation:


Mates put further gravity to the situation when he tweeted a picture of a distant-looking Serry sitting in the coffee shop, as men stared at him through a window:



The impasse was broken when Serry agreed to the group’s initial demand that he cut his trip short, go to the airport and leave Crimea:







Serry was in Crimea as part of a UN envoy sent to assess the crisis in Ukraine. A UN spokesperson said in a statement that Serry will be taking a late flight out of Simferopol and will shortly return to Kiev to continue his mission after it was cut short today. No one was injured in the incident.

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