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Russia urges ‘dialogue’ not ‘riots’ in Kazakhstan after protests over fuel price

Russia on Wednesday urged “dialogue” in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan as unprecedented unrest spun out of control over an energy price increase in the Central Asian nation.

“We are closely following the events in the brotherly neighboring country,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

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“We support a peaceful solution to all problems within the legal and constitutional framework and through dialogue, not through street riots and violation of laws,” it added.

“We hope for the earliest possible normalization of the situation in the country, with which Russia is linked by relations of strategic partnership and alliance through fraternal, human contacts.”

Protests have swept across Kazakhstan triggered by a New Year energy price increase in a rare challenge to the authoritarian government.

Kazakhstan is of crucial importance to Russia as an economic partner and its founding president Nursultan Nazarbayev is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier Wednesday, protesters stormed the mayor’s office in Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty and appeared to have seized control of the building.

The demonstrations are the biggest threat so far to the regime established by Nazarbayev, who stepped down in 2019 and ushered loyalist Kassym-Jomart Tokayev into the presidency.

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UK water companies to face unlimited fines for sewage pollution

Water companies will incur unlimited fines for polluting rivers and the sea under new UK legislation to protect the environment, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Therese Coffrey, the environment secretary, will announce plans next week to remove the £250,000 maximum fine on civil penalties for companies that break the rules. The environment agency is also seeking to strengthen its ability to impose sanctions on water companies without going through the courts.

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Fines will be reinvested into a new Water Restoration Fund which will work with local communities and groups to improve water quality and support projects to improve management of waters and restore protected sites. Penalties and fines will be taken from water company profits, not customers.

Last year, 10 water and sewage companies within England released sewage into rivers and the sea on 301,091 occasions, with United Utilities and Yorkshire Water responsible for 40 percent of the spills.

“I want to make sure that regulators have the powers and tools to take tough action against companies that are breaking the rules and to do so more quickly, Therese Coffrey said in a statement.

The government’s ‘Plan for Water’ will also include measures against other forms of pollution, such as storm overflows, agriculture, plastics, road run-off and chemicals and pesticides.

The proposals will be published within a consultation on Tuesday.

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Iraq, KRG close to deal to resume northern oil exports

Iraq’s federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are close to striking a deal aimed at resuming northern oil exports, four sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters on Saturday.

Turkey stopped pipeline flows from the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to its port of Ceyhan on March 25, after it lost an arbitration case brought by Baghdad.

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In the case, Iraq accused Turkey of violating their 1973 pipeline agreement by allowing the Kurdish government to export oil without Baghdad’s consent between 2014 and 2018.

The halted flows of around 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) only accounted for about 0.5 percent of global oil supply, but the stoppage, which forced oil firms operating in the region to halt output or move production into rapidly-filling storage tanks, still helped boost oil prices last week back to near $80/bbl.

An initial agreement between the two sides states that Iraq’s northern oil exports will be jointly exported by Iraq’s state-owned marketing company SOMO and the KRG’s ministry of natural resources (MNR), according to two of the sources – a senior Iraqi oil official and a KRG official.

Revenues will be deposited in an account managed by the MNR and supervised by Baghdad, the KRG official said.

The preliminary agreement has been sent to Iraq’s prime minister for final approval, according to two of the sources. The KRG source expects the deal to be confirmed by Monday.

The KRG declined to comment. Iraq’s oil ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached outside regular business hours.

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Saudi boxer Ziad al-Maayouf to fight in London’s O2 arena ahead of Anthony Joshua

Saudi Arabian boxer Ziad al-Maayouf is set to face Bulgarian Georgi Velichkov in London’s O2 arena in one of the openings fights of boxing champion Anthony Joshua, state press agency SPA reported on Saturday.

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The UK’s Joshua is set to fight US boxer Jermaine Franklin at around 11pm GMT on Saturday, according to broadcaster DAZN with a number of other fights – including al-Maayouf’s – taking place beforehand. Coverage of the event will be broadcast from around 7pm (10pm GST and 9pm in Saudi Arabia).

Joshua’s meeting with Franklin will be his first broadcast live exclusively on streaming service DAZN in the UK, according to UK news site the Mirror.

Al-Maayouf heads into the ring following an impressive performance in the Rage on the Red Sea competition in Jeddah in August 2022. In that match, al-Maayouf claimed victory over his Mexican opponent Jose Alatorre, cementing his position as the champion of the sixth round, held as part of 10 fights in the historic event in the world of boxing, according to SPA.

He will be the first boxer in the Arab world to compete in a pro bout in the prestigious O2 Arena, SPA said.

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