The pro- and anti-presidential camps in the referendum campaign for the removal of Romania’s suspended President Basescu from office organized key demonstrations in Spain and in the Black Sea port city of Constanta over the weekend, newspapers report on Monday.

The papers also continue attempts to identify a Russian “mason” and his role in current events in Bucharest, after Basescu mentioned his name in an interview last week. And Italy’s attitude towards Romanians after a brutal crime shocked the country is also discussed in the papers today.

“In Castellon, Basescu launched the electoral corrida”, Evenimentul Zilei reports, writing of a major demonstration organized by the suspended President in the Spanish city where many Romanian people are working.

The demonstration was part of his campaign for a no vote in a May 19 referendum where Basescu’s rivals in the Parliament invite Romanians to remove Traian Basescu from office.

The newspaper puts the number of protesters in Castellon at 9,000. Some 2,000 others showed up in a similar demonstration in Madrid. And it also quotes Basescu in throwing “electoral arrows at Russia” in the demonstration held in Constanta yesterday, where he spoke of his pro-Western options and the “danger of an energy dependence on Russia”.

In a separate report, Evenimentul Zilei writes that Romania finally has definite rules for the May 19 referendum, the most important of which are: voting is not compulsory and Basescu can be ousted with a “yes” vote of 50%+1 of the existing votes.

Basescu’s weekend protests also figure prominently in Gandul, which accuses the suspended President of having been inspired by “hooligans” of the far-right Greater Romania Party.

In this regard, it quotes Basescu as urging Romanians to “push the 322 [Romanian MPs who voted for his suspension in April] over the Parliament railing in autumn 2008”, the time of parliamentary elections.

Romania libera also reports on the “corrida with oligarchs” played by Basescu in Castellon and compares the throngs that gathered to support the suspended President in Castellon and Madrid with the 200 people that showed up at a similar meeting organized by his Social Democratic (PSD) opponents in the Spanish capital on Saturday.

The events are also featured prominently in Jurnalul National and Cotidianul, with the latter pointing out that Basescu was accompanied by popular ex-Justice minister Monica Macovei in Spain.

Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei continues its investigations into who Russian mason Alexandr Kondyakov is and what role he has in the current political crisis in Romania, after President Traian Basescu mentioned him in an interview for Romania libera on Friday.

According to Evenimentul Zilei, Kondyakov is a man close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and visited Romania shortly before the Parliament in Bucharest voted to suspend the head of state.

He met Romanian Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Liberal Senator Radu Stroe and maverick Romanian politician Cozmin Gusa during his visit to Romania, according to “sources close to the intelligence services”.

The paper writes that Kondyakov is a head of a Russian consultancy firm that might have a say in pushing the interests of Russian mogul Oleg Deripaska’s companies in Romania.

Cotidianul confirms the news and quotes Government spokeswoman Camelia Spataru who admitted that Kondyakov met Tariceanu on April 12. And it also quotes Stroe, who said the goal of the meeting is to learn of the lobby services offer of Kondyakov’s firm - not for the Government of Romania, but for the National Liberal Party.

Kondyakov “sensed it was a good time because elections will take place in 2008”, according to Stroe.

Elsewhere in the papers, Gandul reports that the murder committed by a Romanian prostitute in a Rome underground station has left scars on the minds of Italians.

The paper quotes a Corriere della Sera report which says Romanian prostitutes have been complaining they’re persecuted by their clients who have become “more violent” since the murder.

Romania libera deals with the issue as well and reports that the Catholic Church was forced to intervene against xenophobic acts that may target Romanian citizens in Italy.

Also in the newspapers today:

Cotidianul writes that Vanda Vlasov, the wife of new Romanian Interior minister Cristian David, has become notary in Bucharest by associating with a former Social Democratic (PSD) state secretary in the Justice Ministry investigated for corruption.

Cotidianul also reports that the Romanian state’s “gift” for Nokia, the Finnish company that has recently announced a major investment near the city of Cluj, is the building of a mini-highway linking Cluj and the small town of Jucu.

The deadline for the Jucu highway works is 2010, when works at the Nokia plant there is also expected to finish.

Gandul quotes maverick politician Cozmin Gusa who has claimed that suspended President Basescu is working in his referendum campaign with the head of an advertising company, Felix Tataru, who is also working with a communist candidate in the local elections for the Moldovan Republic capital, Chisinau.