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UN: Envoy was threatened, not kidnapped in Crimea

Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, left, greets United Nations Special Coordinator Robert Serry prior their talks in Kiev, Jan. 29, 2014.
Mykhailo Markiv | Pool | AP

The U.N. deputy secretary-general has denied reports from Ukrainian officials that a U.N. special envoy was kidnapped in Crimea.

Jan Eliasson says special envoy Robert Serry was threatened by 10 to 15 armed men as he was leaving naval headquarters in Crimea but that he was not abducted. Eliasson says the armed men ordered Serry to leave Crimea and go to the airport. Eliasson said Serry refused but he couldn't move because his car was blocked so he got out and started walking away.

Eliasson, who is in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, spoke to reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York by telephone. He said he had spoken to Serry 20 minutes earlier.

Serry "is in good shape physically. He is not kidnapped," Eliasson said. "He is now walking back to his hotel after stopping by in a cafe to get guidance to reach the hotel."

James Mates, an ITV news reporter, tweeted during the brief standoff, as he was blockaded inside the coffee shop with Serry.

Mates said police helped Serry force a way through an angry crowd to head toward an airport.

The Associated Press, with additional reporting by