Václav Havel obituary | World news | The Guardian

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Image from a quicklink Czech playwright and former dissident who led his nation after the collapse of communism

After the Soviet invasion that turned the Prague spring of 1968 to long winter, he became a leading dissident, a founder of Charter 77 and Vons (the Czech acronym of Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted), and spent much of his 40s in and out of prison. Finally, he emerged as the effective voice of the crowds that, after 20 years of sullen resentment, at last exploded in Wenceslas Square in the winter of 1989 and, having postered all of freezing Prague with the slogan Havel na Hrad! (Havel to the Castle!), did indeed send him across the river and up the hill to the castle as president of the reborn republic.

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At www.guardian.co.uk

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