A UN special envoy was forced to abandon a mission to Ukraine's Crimea region on Wednesday after being stopped by armed men and sheltering in a cafe, a reporter for Britain's ITN television said.
James Mates said envoy Robert Serry was trapped inside the coffee shop by a hostile pro-Russian crowd. When the envoy agreed to end his diplomatic mission, he was escorted to a car to the airport by police through a crowd shouting "Putin! Putin!"
"He was not kidnapped but he was seriously threatened," UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told reporters in New York by telephone from Kyiv, adding that "this action should be seriously condemned."
Eliasson said a group of unidentified men, some of them armed, surrounded Serry and said he should leave Crimea.
- Ukraine crisis: Diplomatic talks aim to reduce risk of war
- ANALYSIS: Ukraine crisis through the whimsy of international law
- Ukraine in crisis: Key facts, major developments
- Live blog: Ukraine's deadly crisis
- Understanding the Ukraine crisis with maps
Crimea is under the control of Russian military forces, although Moscow describes its troops there who wear no insignia on their uniforms as "self-defence" units of the local administration.
Also on Wednesday, about 100 protesters waving Russian flags and chanting "Russia! Russia!" marched on a building used by international observers sent by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Ukraine's Crimea region, a Reuters photographer on the scene said.