On the other hand, in the public eye a series of connotations that have tended to fluctuate over time have been attached to this denomination of `revolutionary`: from the ?heroic? halo attributed to the participants in the events of December 1989 (lasting up to the first democratic elections of May 1990, when the echoes of the revolution as a miracle, as the birth of a new world were still resounding), to their transformation into ?victims?; and after 1996, when the number of revolutionary certificates issued exploded, to their acquiring meaning of  ?impostors? and ?profiteers?

At the official level of political discourse and government policy, the category of revolutionary was established by law 42/1992, which regulates access to a series of symbolic and material resources. This law has produced more or less perverse effects. Criteria aimed at categorising those who can benefit from this law were provided in order to allocate these resources. Subsequently, these categories were slightly redefined. But it should be noted that these modifications are far from being indifferent towards political interests. Consequently an increasingly conflicting tension has been maintained, reaching critical points in 1996, 2000 and 2002.

Thus, the heading of the initial text of the law was ?The Law for Honouring the Martyr-Heroes? Memory and for Awarding certain Rights to their Families, as well as to those Injured during the Revolution of December 1989?. Obviously, the law had a symbolic character, given the title of ?martyr-heroes of the Romanian revolution?, awarded posthumously, and the triumphant title ?Fighter for the Victory of the December 1989 Romanian Revolution? (a title sounding like those in the communist historiography of revolutions) awarded to the injured persons. The initial law also had a compensatory character for the damages suffered, by providing some rights exclusively to those who had suffered a loss in the events of December 1989. A short time thereafter, in June 1991, law no. 42/1990 was slightly modified, introducing the following new categories: the title ?Fighter for the Victory of the December 1989 Romanian Revolution? was now also to be awarded to those who were imprisoned between December 16-22 for having participated in demonstrations leading to the victory of the revolution. There also appeared a category of the ?direct participant in the manifestations for the victory of the revolution, remarkable through special merits?, an honorary category that does not have any material rights as yet. A new governmental group called ?The State Deputy Secretary for the 1989 Revolution victims` problems? was then instituted. (To be noted that the term ?victims? stresses the compensatory character of the law.) This institution will represent the official entity that can ascribe the institutionalised revolutionary identity according to the definitions of the law. A finer typology reflecting a more complex representation of the December events as well as of those involved in it can also be noticed here. Thus, besides the quality of martyr-hero and that of fighter for the victory of the revolution (which implies, as I mentioned, a coherent triumphant vision of the revolution and the assumption of the revolutionaries? agency, active role), the category of ?deceased or injured in connection with the events in December 1989?, reveals, on the contrary, the involuntary, hazardous aspect, the regrettable mistakes, the confusion and incoherencies of the Romanian Revolution. Re-published with certain other modifications in 1992, law no. 42 brings forth the following new aspects: The title of ?Fighter for the Victory of the Romanian Revolution? included now the terms injured, imprisoned in the period 16-25 December and direct participants in the fights for the Revolution victory between 16-25 December 1989. Those in this latter category were granted institutionalised social identity if they could obtain recognition by the revolutionaries? organisations founded up to that date. All these categories have access to a series of important material facilities and rights.

Inevitably, once these items come to be put into practice, any declaiming of identity as a ?direct participant in the revolution? will be susceptible to abuse. The law no longer has a compensatory character, but is framed in terms of rewards, and is positively discriminating. The new political authority that arose as a consequence of the 1989 regime change actually rewarded the category of ?Fighters for the Victory of the Revolution? for their loyalty to the ?revolution cause?.

In the context of the political changes which occurred in Central and Eastern Europe in the revolutionary year of 1989, these material rewards for civic involvement (performed, of course, in an extremely risky context up to a certain moment) seem by now to have acquired an air of caducity. If the historical-juridical bases of such rewards are rather precarious, the political stakes are pretty obvious. They belong to the official vision of the nature of the Romanian revolution even if they appeal to worn-out patterns of revolutions, the Marxist-Leninist pattern in particular.[5]