MOSCOW - Russia said on Tuesday that it was not ready to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court and called Western criticism of its conduct in the UN Security Council "immoral".
The remarks, the latest display of Russian opposition to Western calls for greater pressure on Syria's government, came after the UN human rights chief issued a fresh call for the council to refer the situation to the court.
"We proceed from the position that only the UN Security Council can sanction the transfer of the Syrian dossier to the International Criminal Court," the state-run news agency Itar-Tass quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying. "We do not see grounds for this at the present time."
Navi Pillay, the UN rights chief, reported to the Security Council that the death toll in more than nine months of unrest in Syria exceeded 5,000 people, including civilians, army defectors and those executed for refusing to shoot civilians.