• Vaclav Havel, playwright, dissident, former Czech President and the human rights conscience of the world died early on Sunday in his country home near Prague at the age of 75.
  • Mr. Havel became the icon of anti-communist dissidence and the symbol of the democratisation of Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He spent over seven years in Communist prisons, which broke his health and left him with chronic bronchitis and intestinal and cardiac problems.
  • Mr. Havel remained the Czech President until 2003, steering his country into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in 1999 and the European Union. He left office in 2003, a year before the Czech Republic became a member of the EU.
  • In 1968, following the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, he refused the offer of exile and spent four years in prison. That is when he wrote one of his most famous books, Letters to Olga , dedicated to his first wife.