Politics are all over the front pages of Romanian newspapers today, starting with an impressive media performance by President Traian Basescu and ending with controversies related to a maverick politician/businessman/football club owner who has now received the recognition of part of the Church.

Corruption is also tackled at national and local level, while the media mourns a reputed analyst who died last night.

“The master of TV waves” sounds the headline of a report in Evenimentul Zilei that reports President Traian Basescu leads in terms of TV appearances during the month of August.

According to a report published yesterday, he was the post viewed politician on all major and news-oriented TV channels, with 144 appearances totaling 107 minutes.

As a comparison, deputy Mona Musca, accused of collaborating with the political police of the former communist regime, comes second with 39.2 minutes, while PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu comes only fifth, with 25.3 minutes.

The same Evenimentul Zilei analyses the “marketing with God” practiced by populist Romanian politician businessman Gigi Becali.

Becali, who heads a small party but is better known as owner of the Steaua Bucharest football club and as a real estate businessman involved in many an obscure deals, received a major medal from IPS Laurentiu Streza, the head of the Metropolitan Church of Ardeal (Central Romania) in a ceremony in Sibiu yesterday.

Sources quoted by the newspaper say that the sign of Church recognition was delivered as Becali promised Streza in private talks some 2 million euro for the restoration of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Sibiu.

Quite a deal, considering that Becali - who claims God acts through his Steaua team and that his purpose in life is to return Romania to the path of God - receives a major political boost from the Orthodox Church, one of the most important opinion makers in Romania.

Cotidianul puts the “price” of the medal of one million euro and underlines that the Andrei Saguna Cross medal is naturally offered to clerics alone.

But Gandul quotes Streza as saying that Becali - a man educated people see as an instinctual spender but viewed by many Romanians as a godsend - deserved the medal because he was involved in charitable works. And the Church leader dismissed claims that he received money in exchange for the honor.

Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei reports the death of Silviu Brucan, a former Communist leader who served as Ambassador to the US and the UN in the fifties but who turned against Ceausescu before the Romanian revolution and who became one of the post reputed political analysts after that.

Brucan died in hospital after undergoing a surgical intervention for a heart affection.

Evenimentul Zilei reviews his life and shows how Brucan, born Saul Bruckner in 1916, was a militant communist since the very beginnings of the movement in Romania. But he evolved to spark a series of scandals with his political prophecies in post-Communist Romania.

Among them - one that calls Romanians a “stupid people” because “20 years will have to pass in order for them to get accustomed with democracy”.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Cotidianul reviews the “price of death” Romanian troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have to pay.

Insurance documents of Romanian soldiers abroad mention the financial compensations they or their families receive in case fate is against them: 80,000 euro in case of death, 60,000 euro for 1st and 2nd degree invalidity and 40,000 euro for 3rd degree invalidity. Their daily pay stands at about 70-80 USD.

The same Cotidianul, owned by businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, attacks rival businessman Dinu Patriciu, the head of the Rompetrol oil group.

Despite Patriciu says the payment of a USD 600 million debt to the state budget would not be a problem for his company in 2010, Patriciu is quoted as saying that he would have nothing against converting the debt into a state participation in Rompetrol’s Petromidia refinery four years from now.

That means, in Cotidianul terms, that “Patriciu prepares his non-payment of state dues”. Patriciu, a Liberal is currently involved in a high-profile case related to past Rompetrol’s deals, a case than includes organized crime-related charges.

And Gandul turns its eyes on the “Liberal Mafia” in the southern Romanian city of Giurgiu, on the banks of Danube.

It reports that the “Mafia” in Giurgiu, formed of Liberal Party members with influential seats in the local administration, managed to such some USD 3 million in just several months by dodging the payment of excises for diesel oil.