U.N. envoy forced out of Crimea by hostile pro-Russian crowd

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U.N. envoy forced out of Crimea by hostile pro-Russian crowd
UN special envoy Robert Serry with me in coffee shop. Outside local militia block the door. #Ukraine http://t.co/pbotNqCG3i
Pro Russian soldiers guard Ukraine's infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow reserves the right to use all means to protect Russians in Ukraine as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainians warm themselves next to a fire at Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine's border to return to their bases as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow fired warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A man looks at a communist-era monument, painted in the colors of the Ukranian and Polish flags by unknown people in Sofia, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The monument was painted with texts reading "Katyn 5.03.1940", "Crimea 2014" and "Putin go home!" as artistic reaction of Russian military actions in Ukraine, as well as a reminiscence of the Katyn massacre, where on March 5, 1940 thousands of Polish officers were killed by the Soviet secret police. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meet at the Russian Ambassador's Residence in Paris, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Russia rebuffed Western demands to withdraw forces in Ukraine's Crimea region to their bases on Wednesday amid a day of high-stakes diplomacy in Paris aimed at easing tensions over Ukraine and averting the risk of war. (AP Photo/Kevin Lamarque, Pool)
SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE - MARCH 05: Pro-Russian militants stand outside the Ukrainian naval headquarters following an incident in which UN envoy Robert Serry was accosted by militants on March 5, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine. Serry managed to leave the building unharmed but has reportedly cut short his mission to Crimea. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - A U.N. special envoy was forced to abandon a mission to Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea region on Wednesday after being stopped by armed men and besieged inside a cafe by a hostile crowd shouting "Russia! Russia!"

A reporter for Britain's ITN television, James Mates, said the envoy, Dutch diplomat Robert Serry, had taken shelter in the cafe to escape the armed men who stopped him. He agreed to leave Crimea to end the stand-off.

A Reuters photographer saw him being escorted by police through a crowd of about 100 angry demonstrators, some waving Russian flags, near the headquarters of a foreign observer mission.

Crimea is under control of Russian forces who seized it last week, although Moscow says "self defense" units of men in uniform without insignia are not under its command.

"UN special envoy Robert Serry with me in coffee shop. Outside local militia block the door," Mates tweeted.

"He refused to go with men blocking car, got out and walked until he found coffee shop. He's asked ITV News team to stay with him," Mates said.

Later Mates added that Serry had said he was very happy to leave Crimea "if it helped de-escalate the situation".

(Reporting by Vasily Fedosenko and Peter Graff, Writing by Peter Graff, Editing by Timothy)

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