The former Czech president has died at the age of 75.
Václav Havel, playwright, dissident and statesman, has died at the age of 75. He led the pro-democracy movement in Czechoslovakia and became the country’s first post-communist president in 1989. Havel opposed the break-up of Czechoslovakia and stood from the position in 1992 but he was subsequently elected president of the Czech Republic, a role he held until 2003.
His assistant, Sabina Dancecova, was quoted as saying that Havel died at his weekend house on Sunday morning, and the news was announced on Czech television during an interview with the current prime minister, Petr Necas.
David Cameron said: “Havel devoted his life to the cause of human freedom. For years, communism tried to crush him, and to extinguish his voice. But Havel, the playwright and the dissident, could not be silenced.
“No one of my generation will ever forget those powerful scenes from Wenceslas Square two decades ago. Havel led the Czech people out of tyranny. And he helped bring freedom and democracy to our entire continent.
“Europe owes Vaclav Havel a profound debt. Today his voice has fallen silent. But his example and the cause to which he devoted his life will live on.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she learned “with great dismay” of Havel’s death.
“His dedication to freedom and democracy is as unforgotten as his great humanity,” Merkel wrote in a message to Czech President Vaclav Klaus. “We Germans also have much to thank him for. Together with you, we mourn the loss of a great European.”