When asked who runs their country, many Romanians unhesitatingly answer: "The secret services." Conspiracy theories have always been the most popular explanations for major political events affecting the country, or the world, sometimes even attributing natural disasters to occult forces with hidden agendas.

Recent press scandals involving the downfall of two of the most influential Romanian media moguls have sparked a new wave of conspiracy theories involving the 'services,' which are largely thought to be president Traian Băsescu's puppets.

In September, one of the richest men in Romania, Sorin Ovidiu Vîntu, founder and owner of the Realitatea media group, was arrested (and has since been released, pending investigation) for helping a fraud convict flee the country. The case included a collapsed 'Ponzi scheme' disguised as an investment bank which seems to explain, at least partially, the origin of Mr Vîntu's fortune.

The fall of the moguls started in June with the arrest (and subsequent release, also pending investigation) of Dan Diaconescu, owner and star journalist of OTV, the main Romanian gutter-journalism TV channel.

He was accused of harassing and blackmailing elected officials and commercial companies, including a major beer brand, who were allegedly asked to pay substantial sums under the threat of a negative media campaign led by the widely watched channel. Read full article in waz.euobserver.com...