Former Czech president Vaclav Havel dies

December 18th, 2011 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Prague, Dec 18 (IANS) Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who was also a playwright, essayist and poet, has died at the age of 75 after a long illness, Xinhua reported Sunday.

Havel died during sleep in his countryside home in Hradecek, the Czech News Agency said, quoting his secretary.

He became president of then Czechoslovakia in 1989, oversaw its peaceful split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 and led the country until 2003.

He wrote over 20 plays and numerous non-fiction works that were translated internationally. He received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Ambassador of Conscience Award and several other distinctions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed Havel as a “great European” in a condolence message to Czech President Vaclav Klaus, BBC reported.

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