Czechs, World Bow to Great Havel

World | December 19, 2011, Monday // 11:20|  views

Candles are placed at the Venceslav Square to commemorate the death of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, in central Prague, Czech Republic, December 18, 2011. Photo by BGNES

Residents of the Czech capital Prague have been laying flowers and lighting candles all through the night into Monday in honor of the late former President of Czechoslovakia and one of the most well-known dissidents in Eastern Europe, Vaclav Havel.

Havel passed away Sunday at the age of 75 after a serious illness.

The Czech cabinet is convening Monday to announce the official days of mourning. The Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, reports that the wake and the burial ceremony will be most likely held Friday.

Political leaders across the globe paid tribute to Havel for his crucial contributions for freedom and democracy.

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright remembered Havel as a friend, artist, jazz lover and as an inspiration to the Czech people.

"He is one of the most important figures of the 20th century in terms of his understanding of humanity, human rights, democracy, principle and morality... To the extent that people want to identify with that, they will see him as a great hero," she said.

US President Barack Obama hailed Havel on as a leader of great vision and moral courage who "shook the foundations of an empire" with his peaceful resistance to communist rule.

"He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world," Obama said in a statement.

According to former Polish President, Leh Valensa, Havel had been a "great theoretician and leader who fought with written and spoken words."

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Tags: Vaclav Havel, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, dissident, communist, Eastern Europe, Warsaw Pact, Prague Spring, 1968, Czech President, Velvet revolution, Barack Obama, Leh Valensa, Madeleine Albright, mourning


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