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Playwright President Vaclav Havel Dies Playwright President Vaclav Havel Dies

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Playwright President Vaclav Havel Dies

Former Czech Republic's President Vaclav Havel smiles during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Prague, Czech Republic on Friday Oct. 3, 2008. Vaclav Havel said the global economic crisis is a warning not to abandon basic human values in the scramble to prosper. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

photo of Glen Justice
December 18, 2011

Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident playwright who served as his country's first democratically-elected president after throwing off Soviet rule, died Sunday morning, The New York Times reported. He was 75.

Havel, who was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, helped lead the country's non-violent "Velvet Revolution," which ended roughly four decades of Communist rule. As president, he helped his country transition to a democratic system and a free market economy.

He also aided the peacefull breakup of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the early 1990s. The Czech Republic subsequently joined the European Union and became a member of NATO.

 

Havel, a former smoker with a history of respiratory problems, left office in 2003 but remained a figure on the world stage.

 

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