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Vaclav Havel
(Czechoslovakian Leader)

Date of Birth:
October 5, 1936


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Václav Havel, GCB, CC, is a Czech writer and dramatist. He was the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic . He has written over twenty plays and numerous non-fiction works, some of which have received international acclaim. He has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, and the Ambassador of Conscience Award.

Beginning in the 1960s, his work turned to focus on the politics of Czechoslovakia. After the Prague Spring, he became increasingly active. In 1977, his involvement with the human rights manifesto Charter 77 brought him international fame as the leader of the opposition in Czechoslovakia; it also led to his imprisonment. The 1989 "Velvet Revolution" launched Havel into the presidency. In this role he led Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic to capitalism and multi-party democracy. His thirteen years in office saw radical change in his nation, including its split with Slovakia, which Havel opposed, its accession into NATO and start of the negotiations for membership in the EU, which was completed in 2004.

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