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Czechs pay tribute to 'Velvet Revolution' leader Havel

Czechs pay tribute to 'Velvet Revolution' leader Havel
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Thousands of Czechs have been paying their last respects to Vaclav Havel, the playwright who became the country’s president by leading its peaceful ‘Velvet Revolution’.

A day after the 75-year-old’s death from a respiratory illness, mourners filed past his closed coffin at the cultural centre he founded in a former church in Prague.

“He accomplished what we did not believe was possible: He beat communism, and what is more, without a single shot, without a drop of blood spilled. He deserves honour,” said Lumir Nemec,

a 72-year-old pensioner waiting in a line stretching hundreds of metres to pay respects to the former president.

From Wednesday, Havel’s body will lie in state at Prague Castle, a place whose medieval austerity he sought to enliven while head of state by inviting performers and fellow artists.

Leaders from around the world are expected to attend his funeral, which will take place on Friday at Prague Castle’s St Vitus Cathedral.