Vaclav Havel, Dissident Playwright Who Led Czechoslovakia, Dead at 75


Vaclav Havel, the writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of Communist rule helped to destroy it in revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall and swept Havel himself into power, died on Sunday. He was 75.

His assistant, Sabina Tancevova, said that Mr. Havel died in his sleep at his country house in northern Bohemia. “He suffered from long-term health problems to which he succumbed,” Ms. Tancevova said, adding that Mr. Havel’s wife Dagmar was at his side.

A Czech embassy spokesman in Paris, Michal Dvorak, said in a statement that Mr. Havel, a heavy smoker who almost died during surgery for lung cancer in 1996, had been suffering from severe respiratory ailments since last spring.

A shy yet resilient, unfailingly polite but dogged man who articulated the power of the powerless, Mr. Havel spent five years in and out of Communist prisons, lived for two decades under close secret-police surveillance and endured the suppression of his plays and essays. He served 14 years as president, wrote 19 plays, inspired a film and a rap song and remained one of his generation’s most seductively nonconformist writers....

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