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The UN's assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, has expressed concern over what he described as "deep divisions" in Moldova.

Wrapping up a four-day visit to Moldova on March 31, Simonovic said that "ethnic, religious, gender, political, linguistic and income" divisions "have been intensified" in the country "by widespread corruption, including a massive bank fraud scandal, and by long-standing paralysis in governance."

Simonovic also said "Moldova is faced with a problem of brain drain and social exclusion, and it is now losing its human capital."

He, however, welcomed Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip’s commitment to establish new human rights monitoring structures and cooperate with officials of Moldova's ethnic Gagauz autonomous territory and breakaway region of Transdniester on human rights.

Simonovic also praised as a "positive step" a draft law that would require that 40 percent of all lawmakers be women.

Simonovic stressed the United Nations' willingness to remain engaged with developments in Moldova.

Russia's Constitutional Court is holding its first hearing under a new law designed to allow Moscow to disregard rulings by international courts.

Legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin in December 2015 allows Russia, in its eyes, to disregard rulings by courts including the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if they are deemed to be in contravention of the Russian Constitution.

Legal experts at the Council of Europe have called for the legislation to be amended, saying it is “incompatible” with the country’s international obligations.

The case under examination pertains to two Russian convicts whose rights, the Strasbourg court found in 2013, were violated because they were denied the right to vote.

Russian law does not allow convicts to vote while serving their sentences.

A ruling is due in the coming weeks.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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