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Czechs mourn Velvet Revolution leader Havel

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Czechs mourn Velvet Revolution leader Havel


Tributes have been pouring in from around the world after the death of Vaclav Havel, the Czech Republic’s first president.

Widely regarded as the leader of the ‘Velvet Revolution’, the 75-year-old former dissident playwright died on Sunday morning following a long period of illness. His death came from a respiratory illness likely aggravated by decades of chain-smoking.

His expected state funeral is likely to draw leaders and elder statesmen from across Europe and the world.

In Brussels and elsewhere, meetings of the European Union began with silent tributes for a man whose plays were long banned and who was repeatedly jailed after he launched Charter 77, which in 1977 asked the Communist Czechoslovak government to abide by its international commitments to human rights.

Havel lost some of his allure as enthusiasm for free market democracy waned but he remained an emblematic figure for many. As president-philosopher, he struggled to uphold morality in a tumultuous era of economic transformation and murky business deals.

Havel’s coffin is expected to lie in state from Wednesday ahead of a state funeral.

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