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Vaclav Havel
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World Leader
    (October 5, 1936-December 18, 2011)
    Born in Prague, Czech Republic
    Wrote the plays ‘Motormorphosis' (1960), ‘The Garden Party' (1963), ‘The Memorandum' (1965), ‘The Increased Difficulty of Concentration' (1968), ‘Conspirators' (1971), ‘Private View' (1978), ‘Largo Desaloto' (1985) and ‘Tomorrow' (1988)
    Member of the human rights groups Charter 77 and VONS (Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted)
    Last president of Czechoslovakia (1989-92)
    First president of the Czech Republic (1993-2003)
    He claimed he was uninterested in politics.
    One of his first acts as president was a general pardon that released not just political prisoners but also many petty criminals, causing a major jump in the crime rate.
    He married an actress (1997) less than a year after the death of his first wife.
    He endorsed President Bush's 'pre-emptive' war against Iraq (2003).
    He was a chain smoker.
    Because of his commitment to non-violent reform, he has been compared to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
    Because of government restrictions on his writing, he had to work in a brewery to make ends meet.
    He was jailed repeatedly by the authorities, spending a total of five years in prison.
    He was the first head of state to invite the Dalai Lama to an official state function.
    He was the first person named an ‘Ambassador of Conscience' by Amnesty International (2003).
    Tom Stoppard and Samuel Beckett dedicated plays to him.
    He said ‘The only lost cause is one we give up on before we enter the struggle.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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