Sunday, December 18, 2011

Havel, one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s, has died

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 75, his spokeswoman announced Sunday.

"Vaclav Havel left us today," Sabina Tancevova said in a short statement on Havel's website.

Havel, a puckish, absurdist playwright turned political activist, spent four and a half years in prison for opposing Czechslovakia's Communist government before emerging as a leader of the Velvet Revolution that swept it aside in 1989.

He went on to become president of Czechoslovakia, and of the Czech Republic when the country split in two at the end of 1992.

He died peacefully in his sleep Sunday morning in the presence of his wife, Dagmar, Tancevova said.

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