– 2 – Monika Lavova

Monika Lavova was born in the outskirts of Bratislava. 

Long before Monika started walking, the State Security Organization, or as some would whisper, the StB*, had already taken her first steps for her.

Monika’s mother, Ata Lavova, was Ata Svitakova before marrying. She was the most beautiful young woman in Rovinka. A town outside Bratislava, very close to the border with Hungary.

In truth, Ata was more than pretty. She was a force. Leaving a deep and permanent impression on the hearts of all who gave up theirs to her.

While they loved her, Ata loved the communist ideal and all it stood for. By age 10, Ata was the leader of her Pionyrska Organizace Socialistickeho Svazu Mladeze** unit. Or PO SSM, as they were affectionately called.

But when she was 16, Ata made a mistake.

She gave her heart and her hope away.

Ata gave them to the handsomest boy at summer camp. There at the Communist Party beach resort in the Crimea, better known as Artek***, she lost both.

From that day on, Ata never saw her heart again. As it disappeared from the summer camp, along with the boy.

Ata returned to Czechoslovakia knowing she would never fall in love again.

She would devote her life to the communist ideal. It would never betray her.

And she would marry a boy, neither handsome nor ugly, but loyal and ambitious. 

* StB - In former Czechoslovakia, State Security (Czech: Státní bezpečnost, Slovak: Štátna bezpečnosť) or StB / ŠtB, was a plainclothes secret (political) police force from 1945 to its dissolution in 1990. Serving as an intelligence and counter-intelligence agency, it dealt with any activity that could possibly be considered anti-communist. 

**Czech Young Pioneers - The Czech Pioneer movement was similar to similar organizations created in Eastern European countries. Like other countries, the uniforms were quite simple, dominated by red scarves.

After the Soviet occupation in 1968 there were major changes in the Czech Government and Communist Party. One of these changes was that all children's organizations were forced to unite in a new organization, the PO SSM. Those that refused, which was not advisable, had to disband.

The popularity of the Pioneers in Czechoslovakia is difficult to assess. One Czech observer, tells HBU that, "It's impossible to say popular or unpopular." From 1970 there was no alternative in the former Czechoslovakia. All children were Pioneers. Very few children did not participate; it was virtually mandatory.
*** Artek (Cyrillic: Арте́к) is an international children center (a former Young Pioneer camp) on the Black Sea in the town of Hurzuf located on the Crimean peninsula, near Ayu-Dag. It was established on June 16, 1925. The center is part of the State Management of Affairs.

The camp first hosted only 80 children but then grew rapidly. In 1969 it had an area of 3.2 km². The camp consisted of 150 buildings, including three medical facilities, a school, the film studio Artekfilm, three swimming pools, a stadium with a seating capacity of 7,000, and playgrounds for various other activities.

Artek was considered to be a privilege for Soviet children during its existence, as well as for children from other communist countries. During its heyday, 27,000 children a year vacationed at Artek. Between 1925 and 1969 the camp hosted 300,000 children including more than 13,000 children from 70 foreign countries.

Monika’s father was Josef Lavova.

He was a medical student. At the beginning of the 70s, every student was required to spend their final 3 years of orthopaedics study at the University in Prague. 

The family knew these years would be difficult. They decided that Ata and little Monika would remain in Bratislava. Josef would live at the University of Prague, and travel back to them twice a month. If possible.

Unexpectedly, after finishing his degree, Josef chose to remain at the Central Hospital in Prague. Every Friday he would return to his family and spend the weekend in Bratislava.

Monika was appreciated all her father did. While she had really grown up without her father, she was understanding of him. Monika accepted her life as it was. It made sense to be that way.

Like her mother, Monika was brilliant at whatever she did. At school, at sports, and at the arts. And with her friends and later, with boyfriends. 

Like her mother, Monika was an idealist. She was going to join The Komsomol*.

Reality forced Monica to change her plans when her father returned home to be cared for after a traffic accident nearly took his life. 

Ata and Monika did everything they could to help him. The days passing back and forth like a football between mother and daughter, as they cared for Josef. 

Yet, as he recovered, they realised something more than six ribs and four teeth,

had been taken from him.

Monika had grown up in the typical Soviet environment. Backyards with open spaces between each apartment block, and their local Palace of Culture**. In this perfect world Ata, had devoted herself to creating the necessary conditions for the progress of the New Man. 

* The Communist Union of Youth - usually known as Komsomol (Russian: Комсомол, a syllabic abbreviation from the Russian Kommunisticheskii Soyuz Molodyozhi), was the youth division of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Smoking, drinking, dancing, religion, and any other activity the Bolsheviks saw as threatening were discouraged as “hooliganism”. The Komsomol sought to provide them with alternative leisure activities that promoted the improvement of society, such as volunteer work, sports, and political and drama clubs.
** Palace of Culture - was the name for major club-houses in the former Soviet Union and the rest of the Eastern bloc. It was an establishment for all kinds of recreational activities and hobbies: sports, collecting, arts, etc.
*** Devotion – Noun Piety, religious feeling, dedication to the worship of God and saints. Respect, affection, dedication.

For almost 20 years, it was the Riadital*, in nearby Novy Most, that continued to boast of its famous Bystrica** at the top.

Everything changed at the end of 1989.

It was the death of Martin of Šmíd’.*** His passing hurried the passing of one dream for some. While for many others, launched the beginning of undreamed-of aspirations. 

As for Monika Lavova, her life became as mysterious and heroic as Zhanna Aguzarova****

* Riaditel - The head of a company in Slovakia is called “Riaditel”
** Bystrica - A special attraction is its flying saucer-shaped structure housing a restaurant, called "UFO" (since 2005; previously called Bystrica), on the bridge's 84.6 metre pylon. The restaurant is reached using an elevator situated in the left pillar. 
*** Martin Smid - Martin Šmíd was a fictitious Czechoslovak university student, who was supposedly killed in the police attack on the November 17, 1989 student demonstration in Prague that launched Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution.

The rumor of Šmíd's death was spread by Drahomíra Dražská, a porter at a student dormitory in the city's Troja district. The dissident Petr Uhl believed the report and passed it along to Radio Free Europe, which broadcast it. The news of a student's death shocked many, and the rumor is thought to have contributed to the fall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
 **** In the mid-'80s the Russian singer Zhanna Aguzarova put a dent in the flat Soviet backdrop with her powerful voice and unapologetic persona. First as the vocalist of the group Bravo and later as a solo artist, her irreverent style and eccentricity made her a symbol of individuality and dissent. Aguzarova was insolent in the face of the oppressive regime, but her voice, full of longing and romanticism, thrilled millions of fans. But Aguzarova remained a mystery, one day taking off without warning for Los Angeles, the next claiming to communicate with Martians. Fans loved her for her incongruities and took every opportunity to turn her shadowy and improbable biography into legend.

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