Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 75, Czech Television announced Sunday.
Havel, a puckish, absurdist playwright turned political activist, spent four and a half years in prison for opposing Czechslovakia's Communist government before emerging as a leader of the Velvet Revolution that swept it aside in 1989.
He went on to become president of Czechoslovakia, and of the Czech Republic when the country split in two at the end of 1992.
A deeply serious thinker given to long, rambling statements in presidential speeches and conversation, Havel also had an impish sense of humor, reportedly whizzing through the long corridors of Prague Castle on a scooter after becoming president.
It was his love of rock and roll as much as his moral outrage at the Communist system that brought him to prominence.
He co-wrote the influential Charter 77 anti-Communist declaration in protest at the arrest of a Czechoslovak rock band, the Plastic People of the Universe.
A perennial contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, Havel never won, but remained active in anti-Communist causes from Cuba to China until his death.FULL STORY