RIP: Václav Havel, Czech playwright, politician, and iconic pro-democracy dissident, passed away today in his home village of Hrádeček. He was 75.
“Vaclav Havel left us today,” read a short statement from Havel’s assistant, Sabina Tancevova, on his website.
A staunch anti-communist activist and co-author of the Charter 77 manifesto (inspired by the arrest of an underground rock band), Havel’s unwavering opposition to the oppressive regime that ruled Czechoslovakia for forty years eventually led to the non-violent Velvet Revolution that overthrew the regime he referred to as “Absurdistan.”
Soon after he became his country’s first democratically elected president, as well as its last: Havel oversaw the 1993 breakup of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
He was elected again, this time as his own nation’s first President. He served two terms over 10 years, remaining popular both at home and abroad throughout his presidency.
Asked in an interview a few years back if he would prefer to be remembered for his contributions as a playwright or politician, Havel responded: “I would like it to say that I was a playwright who acted as a citizen, and thanks to that he later spent a part of his life in a political position.”
[theatlantic / ap / cnn.]