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(Original story by Dan Bilefsy and Jane Perlez at the New York Times...)

"Vaclav Havel, the Czech 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 at his country house in northern Bohemia.

A Czech embassy spokesman in Paris, Michal Dvorak, said in a statement that Mr. Havel, a heavy smoker for decades 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...

In June 1992, as Czechoslovakia began to break up, Mr. Havel resigned as president rather than preside over the split. He spoke then of the difficult metamorphosis from philosopher to politician.

“Putting into practice the ideals to which I have adhered all my life, which guided me in the dissident years, becomes much more difficult in practical politics,” he said, before being later elected president of the new Czech Republic..."


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