Another disputed election. Another crackdown.

This time it's Togo:

Togo's top opposition candidate said Monday that security forces have been provoking demonstrators with force, a day after the group staged protests claiming last week's presidential election was rigged to favor the son of the country's longtime dictator.

Anti-riot police sealed off the sandy alleys leading to the headquarters of the opposition party, stranding the country's opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre outside for more than an hour in a tense standoff days after the disputed vote.

The 57-year-old Fabre vowed Sunday to take to the streets every day to protest what he says was a fraudulent election, saying he would only stop when the police had exhausted their stock of tear gas or killed him.

From Kenya to Zimbabwe to Iran to Sri Lanka, the seemingly fraudulent eection followed by mass protest and government crackdown is becoming a familiar pattern. While Togo is unlikely to command international media attention long enough to get a "color" designation, it seems to fit the mold. 

The optimistic view of all these bloody post-elections is that opposition movements are becoming bolder about challenging fraudulent results. The bad news is that except for the original color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, the authorities always seem to win these confrontations. 



Putin: Olympics money might have been misspent

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reflects on Russia's preparations for the Vancouver Games: 

"Maybe the money was spent not on what was needed but instead on what someone wanted to spend it on," Putin told top sports officials that he summoned for a grilling Friday about Russia's worst-ever performance at the Winter Games.

Putin, chairing a meeting to analyze the reasons behind the Olympic flop, said the government had spent about 3.5 billion rubles ($117 million) in three years to prepare for the Vancouver Games — a sum that he claimed was comparable with those spent by the nations that won the most medals.

"I have got an impression that the more money we spend, the more modest the results are," he said, adding that the sum was five times the amount that Russia had spent on preparations for the 2006 Winter Games in Torino.

For a clue as to why the money was misspent, Putin might want to check out Miriam Elder's recent dispatch for FP:

[T]hose who oversee athletics in Russia often have few sports credentials other than close ties to Putin (who is, after all, a judo master). Mutko, who was appointed sports minister last year, was deputy mayor of the St. Petersburg mayor's administration where Putin got his start in politics in the 1990s.

Sergei Naryshkin, another St. Petersburg ally and Kremlin chief of staff, heads the swimming federation. Vladimir Lisin, a Kremlin-friendly metals tycoon recently named Russia's richest man, heads the shooting federation, while Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's second-richest man and future owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, heads the biathlon union.

Russian athletics are currently governed by an odd system in which political cronies are running sports federations and athletes like speedskating gold-medalist Svetlana Zhurova serve in parliament. Seems like it might work better the other way around.