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2 Senators Who Are Parents of Opposition Leaders May Lose Jobs Over Protest Law

Lyudmila Narusova, right, with President Vladimir Putin in 2006.

Two Federation Council senators whose children are opposition leaders may soon lose their jobs after not voting for a bill to harshen punishments for involvement in unsanctioned protests.

Senators Lyudmila Narusova and Larisa Ponomaryova of the left-wing A Just Russia party may be forced out of parliament in the fall, State Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov wrote Tuesday on LiveJournal, citing a senior United Russia official.

Narusova is the mother of outspoken activist and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak. Ponomaryova's son, Ilya Ponomaryov, is a Duma deputy also representing A Just Russia.

In early June, Ponomaryova was the only senator to vote against a controversial bill to raise fines for individuals participating in unsanctioned rallies to 300,000 rubles ($9,000).

Narusova, along with 31 of the 166 senators in the upper house of parliament, abstained from the vote.

Ponomaryova and Narusova were appointed by the governors of the Bryansk and Chukotka regions in 2005 and 2010, respectively, and can be fired by those regions' governors.

The senators may lose their jobs due to "their position on the law about fines and, of course, the activities of opposition-minded relatives," opposition website Kasparov.ru wrote, citing Gudkov, a deputy with A Just Russia.

The website said Gudkov had made the comment on Twitter, but the statement was neither on Gudkov's Twitter page nor his LiveJournal blog as of Wednesday afternoon.

Sixty-six percent of Muscovites disapprove of the protest fine increase, according to a recent poll by the independent Levada Center.

The recent large protests in Moscow did not in any way burden 65 percent of Muscovites, according to the survey, which had 500 participants and a 7 percent margin of error.

Thirty percent of respondents believed that such protests could escalate into mass disorder and violence.

The so-called protest bill, which became law in early June, jacked up fines from 2,000 rubles to 300,000 rubles for individuals and 1 million rubles for officials and organizations.

Rights activists have denounced the law as draconian.

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