... Mircea Geoana's claim that a "negative energy attack" by a bearded mystic led to his defeat [by Traian Basescu] in the presidential election has become the talk of the nation.
Like most former Soviet nations, Romania is used to rough and tumble politics and accusations of fraud were nothing out of the ordinary .../
But the recent publication of photos showing well-known parapsychologist Aliodor Manolea close to Basescu during the campaign has caused Romanians to wonder whether the president really did put a hex on his rival.
The photos show Mr Manolea, a slightly built, bearded man with a round face and cropped receding hair, walking yards behind Mr Basescu ahead of the debate. The mystic's specialities include deep mind control, clairvoyance and hypnotic trance, according to the Romanian Association of Transpersonal Psychology.
Initially, Mr Basescu's office declined to comment on the issue with officials referring enquiries to the Liberal Democratic Party that supported the president. Officials there gave evasive answers – but not outright denials.
But yesterday, the president's spokesman admitted he knew Manolea but insisted the parapschycologist did not take part in campaign staff meetings. "I am not clear what this person was doing next to President Basescu," he said.
Mr Manoela's role in the elections evokes age-old Balkan rituals where the evil eye, witch doctors and other mysterious forces were used to launch mystic energy attacks on opponents and sap hapless victims of their vital strength....
Former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was so terrified of even traditional psychologists he feared were a threat to communism that he abolished psychology departments across the country and banned the word from the official dictionary.