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TextVáclav Havel (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvaːtslaf ˈɦavɛl] ( listen)) (5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011) was a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician. He was the tenth and last President of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993–2003). He has written over twenty plays and numerous non-fiction works, translated internationally. Havel has received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the freedom medal of the Four Freedoms Award, and the Ambassador of Conscience Award and several other distinctions. He was also voted 4th in Prospect magazine's 2005 global poll of the world's top 100 intellectuals. He is a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism. 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 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 European Union, which was attained in 2004.
TextVaclav Havel, the Czech Republic's first post-communist president, has died. He was 75-years-old. The playwright, who was a leading member of the country's dissident movement, passed away on Sunday morning following a long bout of ill heath. The hero of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which saw non-violent protests topple the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, died at his house in the north of the country. During the 1960's, Havel became increasingly interested in politics, using theatre to critique the regime. Following the collapse of the soviet system and the end of the Cold War, Hacvel spent 13 years in power, overseeing the country's often bumpy transition from Stalinism to capitalism. He also presided over the country's peaceful split in 1993 and the consequent birth of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.