Czech Hero Havel Is Dead at 75
Vaclav Havel, playwright, nonviolent dissident and pro-democracy leader of the Czechoslovakian “Velvet Revolution” that toppled communism and propelled the unraveling of the Soviet empire, died Sunday morning. He was 75.
Havel’s state funeral is likely to draw a crowd of leaders, artists and intellectuals from around the world. Havel was a renowned playwright and essayist who, after the crushing of the Prague spring in 1968, was drawn increasingly into the political struggle against the Czechoslovakian communist dictatorship, which he called Absurdistan. His involvement in the Charter 77 movement for freedom of speech won him admiration around the world.
His commitment to non-violent resistance helped ensure the velvet revolution was bloodless. It also [helped ensure] that the “velvet divorce” three years later, when the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was equally peaceful.