Václav Havel (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvaːtslav ˈɦavɛl] (listen); 5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011) was a Czech statesman, writer and former dissident, who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 and then as the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs.
His educational opportunities having been limited by his bourgeois background, Havel first rose to prominence as a playwright. In works such as The Garden Party and The Memorandum, Havel used an absurdist style to criticize communism. After participating in the Prague Spring and being blacklisted after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, he became more politically active and helped found several dissident initiatives, including Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted. His political activities brought him under the surveillance of the secret police and he spent multiple stints in prison, the longest being nearly four years, between 1979 and 1983.
Havel's Civic Forum party played a major role in the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. He assumed the presidency shortly thereafter, and was re-elected in a landslide the following year and after Slovak independence in 1993. Havel was instrumental in dismantling the Warsaw Pact and expanding NATO membership eastward. Many of his stances and policies, such as his opposition to Slovak independence, condemnation of the Czechoslovak treatment of Sudeten Germans after World War II, and granting of general amnesty to all those imprisoned under communism, were very controversial domestically. As such, at the end of his presidency, he enjoyed greater popularity abroad than at home. Havel continued his life as a public intellectual after his presidency, launching several initiatives including the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, the VIZE 97 Foundation, and the Forum 2000 annual conference.
Havel's political philosophy was one of anti-consumerism, humanitarianism, environmentalism, civil activism, and direct democracy. He supported the Czech Green Party from 2004 until his death. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award. The 2012–2013 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour. He is considered by some to be one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century. The international airport in Prague was renamed to Václav Havel Airport Prague in 2012.
|1st President of the Czech Republic|
2 February 1993 – 2 February 2003
|Prime Minister||Václav Klaus|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Václav Klaus|
|10th President of Czechoslovakia|
29 December 1989 – 20 July 1992
|Prime Minister||Marián Čalfa|
|Preceded by||Gustáv Husák|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Born||5 October 1936|
|Died||18 December 2011 (aged 75)|
Vlčice, Czech Republic
|Political party||OF (1989–1991)|
|ODA supporter (1990–1998)|
SZ supporter (2004–2011)
|Alma mater||Czech Technical University|
Academy of Performing Arts
Havel was born in Prague on 5 October 1936 into a wealthy family celebrated in Czechoslovakia for its entrepreneurial and cultural accomplishments. His grandfather, Vácslav Havel, a real estate developer, built a famous entertainment complex on Prague's Wenceslas Square. His father, Václav Maria Havel, was the real estate developer behind the suburban Barrandov Terraces, located on the highest point of Prague—next door to which his uncle, Miloš Havel, built one of the largest film studios in Europe. Havel's mother, Božena Vavrečková, also came from an influential family; her father was a Czechoslovak ambassador and a well-known journalist. In the early 1950s, because of his class background, Havel entered into a four-year apprenticeship as a chemical laboratory assistant and simultaneously took evening classes at a gymnasium. He completed his secondary education in 1954. For political reasons, he was not accepted into any post-secondary school with a humanities program; therefore, he opted for studies at the Faculty of Economics of the Czech Technical University in Prague but dropped out after two years. On July 9, 1964, Havel married Olga Šplíchalová.
The intellectual tradition of his family was essential for Havel's lifetime adherence to the humanitarian values of the Czech culture. After finishing his military service (1957–59), Havel had to bring his intellectual ambitions in line with the given circumstances, especially with the restrictions imposed on him as a descendant of a former middle-class family. He found employment in Prague's theatre world as a stagehand at Prague's Theatre ABC – Divadlo ABC, and then at the Theatre On Balustrade – Divadlo Na zábradlí. Simultaneously, he was a student of dramatic arts by correspondence at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU). His first own full-length play performed in public, besides various vaudeville collaborations, was The Garden Party (1963). Presented in a series of Theatre of the Absurd, at the Theatre on Balustrade, this play won him international acclaim. The play was soon followed by The Memorandum, one of his best known plays, and The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, all at the Theatre on Balustrade. In 1968, The Memorandum was also brought to The Public Theater in New York, which helped to establish Havel's reputation in the United States. The Public Theater continued to produce his plays in the following years. After 1968, Havel's plays were banned from the theatre world in his own country, and he was unable to leave Czechoslovakia to see any foreign performances of his works.
During the first week of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Havel assisted the resistance by providing an on-air narrative via Radio Free Czechoslovakia station (at Liberec). Following the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, he was banned from the theatre and became more politically active. Short of money, he took a job at Krakonoš brewery in Trutnov, an experience he wrote about in his play Audience. This play, along with two other "Vaněk" plays (so-called because of the recurring character Ferdinand Vaněk, a stand in for Havel), became distributed in samizdat form across Czechoslovakia, and greatly added to Havel's reputation of being a leading dissident (several other Czech writers later wrote their own plays featuring Vaněk). This reputation was cemented with the publication of the Charter 77 manifesto, written partially in response to the imprisonment of members of the Czech psychedelic rock band The Plastic People of the Universe. (Havel had attended their trial, which centered on the group's non-conformity in having long hair, using obscenities in their music, and their overall involvement in the Czech underground.) Havel co-founded the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted in 1979. His political activities resulted in multiple stays in prison, and constant government surveillance and questioning by the secret police, (Státní bezpečnost). His longest stay in prison, from May 1979 to February 1983, is documented in letters to his wife that were later published as Letters to Olga.
He was known for his essays, most particularly The Power of the Powerless, in which he described a societal paradigm in which citizens were forced to "live within a lie" under the communist regime. In describing his role as a dissident, Havel wrote in 1979: "...we never decided to become dissidents. We have been transformed into them, without quite knowing how, sometimes we have ended up in prison without precisely knowing how. We simply went ahead and did certain things that we felt we ought to do, and that seemed to us decent to do, nothing more nor less."
On 29 December 1989, while he was leader of the Civic Forum, Havel became President of Czechoslovakia by a unanimous vote of the Federal Assembly. He had long insisted that he was not interested in politics and had argued that political change in the country should be induced through autonomous civic initiatives rather than through the official institutions. In 1990, soon after his election, Havel was awarded the Prize For Freedom of the Liberal International.
In 1990, Czechoslovakia held its first free elections in 44 years, resulting in a sweeping victory for Civic Forum and its Slovak counterpart, Public Against Violence. Between them, they commanded strong majorities in both houses of the legislature, and tallied the highest popular vote share recorded for a free election in the country. Havel retained his presidency.
Despite increasing political tensions between the Czechs and the Slovaks in 1992, Havel supported the retention of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic prior to the dissolution of the country. Havel sought re-election in 1992. Although no other candidate filed, when the vote came on 3 July, he failed to get a majority due to a lack of support from Slovak deputies. The largest Czech political party, the Civic Democratic Party, let it be known that it would not support any other candidate. After the Slovaks issued their Declaration of Independence, he resigned as President on 20 July, saying that he would not preside over the country's breakup.
However, when the Czech Republic was created as one of two successor states, he stood for election as its first president on 26 January 1993, and won. He did not have nearly the power that he had as president of Czechoslovakia. Although he was nominally the new country's chief executive, the framers of the Constitution of the Czech Republic intended to vest most of the real power in the prime minister. However, owing to his prestige, he still commanded great moral authority, and the presidency acquired a greater role than the framers intended. For instance, largely due to his influence, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), successor to the KSC's branch in the Czech Lands, was kept on the margins for most of his presidency. Havel suspected that the KSCM was still an unreformed Stalinist party.
Havel's popularity abroad surpassed his popularity at home, and he was often the object of controversy and criticism. During his time in office, Havel stated that the expulsion of the indigenous Sudeten German population after World War II was immoral, causing a great controversy at home. He also extended general amnesty as one of his first acts as President, in an attempt to lessen the pressure in overcrowded prisons as well as to release political prisoners and persons who may have been falsely imprisoned during the Communist era. Havel felt that many of the decisions by the previous regime's courts should not be trusted, and that most of those in prison had not received fair trials. However, critics claimed that this amnesty led to a significant increase in the crime rate: the total number of crimes doubled, as did the number of murders. Several of the worst crimes in the history of the Czech criminology were committed by criminals released in this amnesty. Within four years of the Velvet revolution (and following another two amnesties declared by Havel), criminality had more than tripled since 1989. According to Havel's memoir To the Castle and Back, most of those who were released had less than a year to serve before their sentences ended, but statistics contradict Havel's claims.
In an interview with Karel Hvížďala (included in To the Castle and Back), Havel expressed his feeling that it was his most important accomplishment as President to have contributed to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. According to his statement the dissolution was very complicated. The infrastructure created by the Warsaw Pact was part of the economies of all member states, and the Pact's dissolution necessitated restructuring that took many years to complete. Furthermore, it took time to dismantle the Warsaw Pact's institutions; for example, it took two years for Soviet troops to fully withdraw from Czechoslovakia.
Following a legal dispute with his sister-in-law Dagmar Havlová (wife of his brother Ivan M. Havel), Havel decided to sell his 50% stake in the Lucerna Palace on Wenceslas Square in Prague, built from 1907 to 1921 by his grandfather, also named Václav Havel (spelled Vácslav,) one of the multifunctional "palaces" in the center of the once booming pre-World War I Prague. In a transaction arranged by Marián Čalfa, Havel sold the estate to Václav Junek, a former communist spy in France and leader of the soon-to-be-bankrupt conglomerate Chemapol Group, who later openly admitted that he bribed politicians of the Czech Social Democratic Party.
In January 1996, Olga Havlová, his wife of 32 years, died of cancer at 62. In December 1996, Havel who had been a chain smoker for a long time, was diagnosed with lung cancer. The disease reappeared two years later. He quit smoking. In 1997, he remarried, to actress Dagmar Veškrnová.
Havel was among those influential politicians who contributed most to the transition of NATO from being an anti-Warsaw Pact alliance to its present form. Havel advocated vigorously for the inclusion of former-Warsaw Pact members, like the Czech Republic, into the Western alliance.
Havel was re-elected president in 1998. He had to undergo a colostomy in Innsbruck when his colon ruptured while he was on holiday in Austria. Havel left office after his second term as Czech president ended on 2 February 2003. Václav Klaus, one of his greatest political adversaries, was elected his successor as President on 28 February 2003. Margaret Thatcher wrote of the two men in her foreign policy treatise Statecraft, reserving the greater respect for Havel. Havel's dedication to democracy and his steadfast opposition to the Communist ideology earned him admiration.
Beginning in 1997, Havel hosted Forum 2000, an annual conference to "identify the key issues facing civilisation and to explore ways to prevent the escalation of conflicts that have religion, culture or ethnicity as their primary components". In 2005, the former President occupied the Kluge Chair for Modern Culture at the John W. Kluge Center of the United States Library of Congress, where he continued his research on human rights. In November and December 2006, Havel spent eight weeks as a visiting artist in residence at Columbia University. The stay was sponsored by the Columbia Arts Initiative and featured "performances, and panels centr[ing] on his life and ideas", including a public "conversation" with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Concurrently, the Untitled Theater Company No. 61 launched a Havel Festival, the first complete festival of his plays in various venues throughout New York City, including The Brick Theater and the Ohio Theatre, in celebration of his 70th birthday. Havel was a member of the World Future Society and addressed the Society's members on 4 July 1994. His speech was later printed in THE FUTURIST magazine (July 1995).
Havel was still admired, even revered, by Czech citizens. In The Greatest Czech TV show (the Czech spin-off of the BBC 100 Greatest Britons show) in 2005, Havel received the third biggest amount of voices, so he was elected to be third greatest Czech when he was still alive.
Havel's memoir of his experience as President, To the Castle and Back, was published in May 2007. The book mixes an interview in the style of Disturbing the Peace with actual memoranda he sent to his staff and modern diary entries and recollections.
On 4 August 2007, Havel met with members of the Belarus Free Theatre at his summer cottage in the Czech Republic in a show of his continuing support, which has been instrumental in the theatre's attaining international recognition and membership in the European Theatrical Convention.
Havel's first new play in almost two decades, Leaving, was published in November 2007, and was to have had its world premiere in June 2008 at the Prague theater Divadlo na Vinohradech, but the theater withdrew it in December as it felt it could not provide the technical support needed to mount the play. The play instead premiered on 22 May 2008 at the Archa Theatre to standing ovations. Havel based the play on King Lear, by William Shakespeare, and on The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov; "Chancellor Vilém Rieger is the central character of Leaving, who faces a crisis after being removed from political power." The play had its English language premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre in London and its American premiere at The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. Havel subsequently directed a film version of the play, which premiered in the Czech Republic on 22 March 2011.
Other works included the short sketch Pět Tet, a modern sequel to Unveiling, and The Pig, or Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig, which was premiered in Brno at Theatre Goose on a String and had its English language premiere at the 3LD Art & Technology Center in New York, in a production from Untitled Theater Company No. 61, in a production workshopped in the Ice Factory Festival in 2011 and later revived as a full production in 2014, becoming a New York Times Critic's Pick.
In 2008, Havel became a Member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation. He met U.S. President Barack Obama in private before Obama's departure after the end of the European Union (EU) and United States (US) summit in Prague in April 2009.
Havel was a supporter of the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which campaigns for democratic reformation of the United Nations, and the creation of a more accountable international political system.
A week before his death, he met with his longtime friend, the Dalai Lama, in Prague; Havel appeared in a wheelchair. Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced a three-day mourning period from 21 to 23 December, the date announced by President Václav Klaus for the state funeral. The funeral Mass was held at Saint Vitus Cathedral, celebrated by the Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka and Havel's old friend Bishop Václav Malý. During the service, a 21 gun salute was fired in the former president's honour, and as per the family's request, a private ceremony followed at Prague's Strašnice Crematorium. Havel's ashes were placed in the family tomb in the Vinohrady Cemetery in Prague. On 23 December 2011, the Václav Havel Tribute Concert was held in Prague's Palác Lucerna.
Within hours Havel's death was met with numerous tributes, including from U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Polish President Lech Wałęsa. Merkel called Havel "a great European", while Wałęsa said he should have been given the Nobel Peace Prize. The Russian Embassy sent an official condolence on behalf of the President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
At news of his death, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a native of Czechoslovakia, said, "He was one of the great figures of the 20th Century", while Czech expatriate novelist Milan Kundera said, "Václav Havel's most important work is his own life." Communists took the opportunity to criticize Havel. Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia leader Vojtěch Filip stated that Havel was a very controversial person and that his words often conflicted with his deeds. He criticized Havel for having supported NATO's war against Yugoslavia, repeating the charge that Havel had called the event a "humanitarian bombing", even though Havel had expressly and emphatically denied ever having used such a phrase.
An online petition organized by one of the best-known Czech and Slovak film directors, Fero Fenič, calling on the government and the Parliament to rename Prague Ruzyně Airport to Václav Havel International Airport attracted—in a week after 20 December 2011—support of over 80,000 Czech Republic and foreign signatories. It was announced that the airport would be renamed the Václav Havel Airport Prague on 5 October 2012.
Reviewing a new biography by Michael Žantovský, Yale historian Marci Shore summarized his challenges as president:
In 1986, Havel received the Erasmus Prize and in 1990, he received the Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize for his outstanding contributions to the well-being of the wider community. In the same year he received the Freedom medal.
On 4 July 1994, Václav Havel was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal. In his acceptance speech, he said: "The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order. Yet I think it must be anchored in a different place, and in a different way, than has been the case so far. If it is to be more than just a slogan mocked by half the world, it cannot be expressed in the language of departing era, and it must not be mere froth floating on the subsiding waters of faith in a purely scientific relationship to the world."
In 2002, he was the third recipient of the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award presented by the Prague Society for International Cooperation. In 2003, he was awarded the International Gandhi Peace Prize by the government of India for his outstanding contribution towards world peace and upholding human rights in most difficult situations through Gandhian means; he was the inaugural recipient of Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for his work in promoting human rights; he received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom; and he was appointed as an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada.
In January 2008, the Europe-based A Different View cited Havel to be one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy. In 2008 he was also awarded the Giuseppe Motta Medal for support for peace and democracy. As a former Czech President, Havel was a member of the Club of Madrid. In 2009 he was awarded the Quadriga Award, but decided to return it in 2011 following the announcement of Vladimir Putin as one of the 2011 award recipients.
Havel also received multiple honorary doctorates from various universities such as the prestigious Institut d'études politiques de Paris in 2009, and was a Foreign Associate Member of the French Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques from October 1992 until his death.
On 10 October 2011, Havel was awarded by the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili with the St. George Victory Order. In November 2014, he became only the fourth non-American honored with a bust in the U.S. Capitol.
|Argentina||Order of the Liberator San Martin Collar||09/1996||Buenos Aires|
|Austria||Decoration for Science and Art||11/2005||Vienna|
|Brazil||Order of the Southern Cross Grand Collar||10/1990||Prague|
|Brazil||Order of Rio Branco Grand Cross||09/1996||Brasília|
|Canada||Order of Canada Honorary Companion||03/2004||Prague|
|Czech Republic||Order of the White Lion 1st Class (Civil Division) with Collar Chain||10/2003||Prague|
|Czech Republic||Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk 1st Class||10/2003||Prague|
|Estonia||Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana The Collar of the Cross||04/1996||Tallinn|
|France||Légion d'honneur Grand Cross||03/1990||Paris|
|France||Order of Arts and Letters Commander||02/2001||Paris|
|Georgia||St. George's Order of Victory||10/2011||Prague|
|Germany||Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Special class of the Grand Cross||05/2000||Berlin|
|Hungary||Order of Merit of Hungary Grand Cross with Chain||09/2001||Prague|
|Italy||Order of Merit of the Italian Republic Grand Cross with Cordon||04/2002||Rome|
|Jordan||Order of al-Hussein bin Ali Collar||09/1997||Amman|
|Latvia||Order of the Three Stars Commander Grand Cross with Chain||08/1999||Prague|
|Lithuania||Order of Vytautas the Great Grand Cross||09/1999||Prague|
|Poland||Order of the White Eagle||10/1993||Warsaw|
|Portugal||Order of Liberty Grand Collar||12/1990||Lisbon|
|Taiwan||Order of Brilliant Star with Special Grand Cordon||11/2004||Taipei|
|Slovakia||Order of the White Double Cross First Class||01/2003||Bratislava|
|Slovenia||The Golden honorary Medal of Freedom||11/1993||Ljubljana|
|Spain||Order of Isabella the Catholic Grand Cross with Collar||07/1995||Prague|
|Turkey||First Class of the Order of the State of Republic of Turkey||10/2000||Ankara|
|Ukraine||Order of Yaroslav the Wise||10/2006||Prague|
|United Kingdom||Order of the Bath Knight Grand Cross (Civil Division)||03/1996||Prague|
|United States||Presidential Medal of Freedom||07/2003||Washington D.C.|
|Uruguay||Medal of the Republic||09/1996||Montevideo|
In April 2012, Havel's widow, Dagmar Havlová, authorized the creation of the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent. The prize was created by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and is awarded at the annual Oslo Freedom Forum. The prize "will celebrate those who engage in creative dissent, exhibiting courage and creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth."
The Václav Havel Library, located in Prague, is a charitable organization founded by Dagmar Havlová, Karel Schwarzenberg and Miloslav Petrusek on 26 July 2004. It maintains a collection of pictorial, audio and written materials and other artefacts linked to Václav Havel. The institution gathers these materials for the purpose of digitisation, documentation and research and to promote his ideas. It organises lectures, holds conferences and social and cultural events that introduce the public to the work of Václav Havel and club discussion meetings on current social issues. It runs educational activities for second-level students. It is also involved in the issuing of publications.
The library makes accessible Václav Havel's literary, philosophical and political writings, and provides a digital reading room for researchers and students in the Czech Republic and elsewhere.
In May 2012, the Library opened a branch New York City, USA, named the Václav Havel Library Foundation. In 2014, the Václav Havel Library moved to larger premises at Ostrovni 13, in the centre of Prague.
On 4 October 2016, the day before what would have been the 80th birthday of Václav Havel, his photograph was presented on the fountain in Croatian capital Zagreb. Croatian-Czech Society proposed the Václav Havel Street in Zagreb.
In November 2016, Václav Havel boulevard was opened in Kiev, Ukraine. The new name has replaced the one given during Soviet era when boulevard was named in honor of the communist politician Jānis Lepse. In December, First Deputy Chairman Iryna Herashchenko along with Minister of Culture of Czech Republic Daniel Herman and Minister of Culture of Ukraine Yevhen Nyshchuk opened memorial plaque in honor of Václav Havel.
The Václav Havel Bench (Havel's Place) is an artistic and urban utility project, created by Czech architect and designer Bořek Šípek. It's composed of two wooden garden chairs connected by a round table, which has a hole inside. A linden, national tree of Czechia, is growing through this hole. These benches can be found in many Czech towns, as well as in some foreign locations (Washington D.C., Dublin, Barcelona).
On 19 November 2014, a bust of Václav Havel, created by Czech-American artist Lubomír Janečka, was unveiled at the U.S. Congress, commemorating the 25 year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Havel is the fourth European ever to be honored by having a bust of himself in the U.S. Congress, after Winston Churchill, Raoul Wallenberg and Lajos Kossuth. Another sculpture of Havel is placed in a boardroom of Leinster House, a historical seat of Oireachtas.
The Václav Havel Library Foundation donated a bust of Havel to Columbia University in New York City. This bust was unveiled on 27 September 2018 while Havel was being honored by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Works by Václav Havel
Media interviews with Václav Havel
The 1989 Czechoslovak presidential election was held on 29 December. Václav Havel became the first non-communist president of Czechoslovakia since 1948. Election was held following the Velvet Revolution.1990 Czechoslovak presidential election
The 1990 Czechoslovak presidential election was held on 5 July 1990. Václav Havel was elected for his second term. Havel was the only candidate. Slovak National Party intended to nominate Štefan Kvietik who declined to run.1992 Czechoslovak presidential election
The 1992 Czechoslovak presidential election was held from July to October 1992. Czechoslovak parliament failed to elect the new President which foreshadowed the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia. The incumbent president Václav Havel participated in the first ballot held on 3 July 1992. He ran unopposed but didn't receive enough votes from Slovak MPs and wasn't elected. Havel resigned on 17 July due to his failure.1993 Czech presidential election
Indirect presidential elections were held in the Czech Republic on 26 January 1993 to elect the first President of the newly-independent country. The president was elected by the members of the Czech Republic Parliament, with Václav Havel emerging as the winner. The election was complicated only by attacks of Republicans against Havel and by bomb threat to the Parliament.1998 Czech presidential election
Indirect presidential elections were held in the Czech Republic on 20 January 1998 to elect a new President. The Parliament re-elected incumbent President Václav Havel in the second round. The arrest of an opposition candidate, Miroslav Sládek, was criticised by Havel's opponents.Civic Forum
The Civic Forum (Czech: Občanské fórum, OF) was a political movement in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia, established during the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The corresponding movement in Slovakia was called Public Against Violence (Slovak: Verejnosť proti násiliu - VPN).
The Civic Forum's purpose was to unify the dissident forces in Czechoslovakia and to overthrow the Communist regime. In this, they succeeded when the Communists gave up power in November 1989 after only 10 days of protests. Playwright Václav Havel, its leader and founder, was elected president on December 29, 1989. Although the Forum did not have a clear political strategy beyond the June 1990 elections, it campaigned successfully in March and April 1990 during the first free elections in Czechoslovakia since 1946. Those elections garnered Civic Forum 36 percent of the vote, the highest that a Czechoslovakian party ever obtained in a free election. This netted it 68 seats in the Chamber of Deputies; combined with Public Against Violence's 19 seats, it commanded a strong majority.
The Civic Forum had a very loose structure, and most of its (self-appointed) leaders came from Prague-based members of the Charter 77 dissident movement. In December 1989, Jan Urban became the Forum's chairman after Havel's election as president. Urban served until June 1990, when he resigned, stating he did not want a rift between the organization and the president. On October 16, 1990, Václav Klaus was elected its new chairman. Klaus's policies were opposed by other leading figures within the Forum and party unity soon vanished.
At the Civic Forum congress in January 1991, the movement divided. The more right wing members, led by Klaus, declared that they would form an independent party, the Civic Democratic Party (Občanská demokratická strana), with a clearer program advocating a free market. The party elected Klaus as its chairman in February 1991. The more centrist members of Civic Forum, led by federal minister of foreign affairs Jiří Dienstbier, formed the Civic Movement (Občanské hnutí). Klaus stated that the two parties would rule as a coalition until the 1992 elections. However, by July 1991 Klaus declared the inter-party cooperation over. The Civic Democratic Party was victorious in the elections of 1992 while the Civic Movement failed to reach the 5% threshold to enter parliament and eventually disappeared.Czech philosophy
Czech philosophy, has often eschewed "pure" speculative philosophy, emerging rather in the course of intellectual debates in the fields of education (e.g. Jan Amos Komenský), art (e.g. Karel Teige), literature (e.g. Milan Kundera), and especially politics (e.g. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Karel Kosík, Ivan Sviták, Václav Havel).
Czech philosophers have also played a central role in the development of phenomenology, whose German-speaking founder Edmund Husserl was born in the Czech lands. Czechs Jan Patočka and Václav Bělohradský would later make important contributions to phenomenological thought.Czechoslovakia at the 1948 Summer Olympics
Czechoslovakia competed at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England. Eighty-seven competitors, 73 men and 14 women, took part in 55 events in 11 sports.Twenty-six-year-old Emil Zátopek won the gold medal in the 10-kilometre run on the first day (his third race at that distance) and became the first Czechoslovak athlete gold medalist. On the second day he added a silver medal in the 5 km run. Czechoslovak canoeists were also very successful (gaining three gold and one silver medal), Jan Brzák-Felix successfully defended his medal that he had won 12 years earlier in 1936 Summer Olympics with another partner, Václav Havel and Jiří Pecka won a silver medal using a 12-year-old boat from the 1936 Olympics. Boxer Július Torma won the gold medal in the Welterweight class, although he had injured his left arm before the semi-final. Women's gymnastics team also secured gold medals, but this victory was overshadowed by the death of their teammate Eliška Misáková, who succumbed to polio in London.Leaving (2011 film)
Leaving (Czech: Odcházení) is a 2011 Czech drama film written and directed by Václav Havel, based on his play of the same name. The film received two Czech Lion awards.Leaving (play)
Leaving (Czech - Odcházení) is a 2007 tragicomedic play by Václav Havel.
Although Havel has had an extensive career as a playwright, Leaving was his first play in over twenty years. The play premiered at Archa Theatre in Prague on May 22, 2008. The play is composed of five acts and requires eleven men, six women, and one voice. In 2011, Havel directed a film adaptation of his play.List of Presidents of Czechoslovakia
The President of Czechoslovakia was the head of state of Czechoslovakia, from the creation of the First Czechoslovak Republic in 1918 until the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic in 1992.
In periods when the presidency was vacant, most presidential duties were assumed by the Prime Minister. However, the Czechoslovak Constitutions never defined anything like a post of acting president.
The second section lists the General Secretaries of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) in 1945–1989. After the 1948 coup d'état, the General Secretary was the country's de facto chief executive. However, three general secretaries (Klement Gottwald, Antonín Novotný and Gustáv Husák) also served as president at some point in their tenures.
The last living former President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel, died in 2011.
As of 2017, there are two living former General Secretaries of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia: Miloš Jakeš and Karel Urbánek.Temptation (play)
Temptation is a Faustian play written by Czech playwright Václav Havel in 1985 that premiered in Austria on 22 May 1986 in the Burgtheater in Vienna. The play premiered in Czechoslovakia on 27 October 1990, at the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Plzeň. It premiered in the United States on 9 April 1989, at The Public Theater in New York City. In 1989, Temptation was translated to English by the Czech author and journalist Marie Winn.The Memorandum
The Memorandum is an English translation of the 1965 play Vyrozumění, by Czech playwright Václav Havel. Englishwoman Vera Blackwell first published this translation in 1967. In 2006, American translator Paul Wilson published a new translation, titled The Memo at Havel's request. Both plays are a black comedy that parody bureaucracy and conformity. Havel wrote Vyrozumění prior to the Prague Spring of 1968 as an ironic satire dissenting communist rule. Despite its veiled themes, the play was approved by government censors and published. The Memorandum centers on the introduction of a new language, "Ptydepe", in an unnamed organization, that is meant to make work more efficient despite having the opposite effect.The VIZE 97 Prize
The VIZE 97 Prize (also The Vision 97 Award; in Czech: Cena Nadace Dagmar a Václava Havlových VIZE 97) is an international prize awarded to significant thinkers by the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 (Nadace Dagmar a Václava Havlových VIZE 97). Starting in 1999, it has been awarded annually to people who through their work "cross the traditional framework of scientific knowledge, contribute to the understanding of science as an integral part of general culture, and in an unconventional way deal with the fundamental questions of knowledge, being and human existence." The prize is awarded in Prague, Czech Republic, and the laureates receive the "crosier of St. Adalbert of Prague."Vaněk plays
The Vaněk plays are a set of plays in which the character Ferdinand Vaněk is central. Vaněk first appeared in the play Audience by Václav Havel. He subsequently appeared in three other plays by Havel (Protest, Unveiling, and Dozens of Cousins), as well as plays by his friends and colleagues, including Pavel Landovský and Tom Stoppard.
Today, the Vaněk plays are among Havel's best-known works.Václav Havel (canoeist)
Václav Havel (5 October 1920 – 14 December 1979) was a Czechoslovak slalom and sprint canoeist who competed from the late 1940s to the late 1950s. He was born in Prague (where he also died).Havel won a silver medal in the C-2 10,000 m event at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. He also won a bronze medal in the C-2 1,000 m event at the 1950 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Copenhagen.
He also competed in slalom canoeing, winning seven medals at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. This included a gold (C-2 team: 1957), four silvers (C-2: 1957, 1959; C-2 team: 1951, 1959) and two bronzes (C-2: 1951, C-2 team: 1953).Václav Havel Airport Prague
Václav Havel Airport Prague (Czech: Letiště Václava Havla Praha), formerly Prague Ruzyně International Airport (Czech: Mezinárodní letiště Praha-Ruzyně, Czech pronunciation: [ˈpraɦa ˈruzɪɲɛ]), (IATA: PRG, ICAO: LKPR), is the international airport of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The airport was founded in 1937, when it replaced the Kbely Airport (founded in 1918), it was reconstructed and extended in 1956, 1968, 1997, and 2006. It is located in the edge of Prague-Ruzyně area, next to Kněževes village, 12 km (7 mi) west of the centre of Prague and 12 km (7 mi) southeast of the city Kladno.
In 2018 it served around 17 million passengers (expecting 18 million in 2019). It serves as a hub for Czech Airlines and Smartwings, and is also a base for Ryanair. The airport is able to handle wide-body aircraft including the largest passenger airliners the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747.Václav Havel Human Rights Prize
The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is an annual €60,000 award established in 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation, to honour "outstanding" civil society action in defence of human rights, in Europe and beyond.The prize is awarded in memory of Václav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. It replaces the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Human Rights Prize, which was created in 2009 and awarded every two years. The Prize is one of a number that are awarded by different institutions of the Council of Europe.
The prize is decided by a jury consisting of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and six independent personalities with expertise in human rights issues. The jury draws up a shortlist of three nominees in September each year, before deciding on an overall winner in October. The prize is awarded at a special ceremony which takes place during the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg. The former Czech First Lady, Dagmar Havlová, is invited to attend. Each year, the Václav Havel Library organises a conference in Prague in honour of the prizewinner.
Individuals, non-governmental organisations and institutions working to defend human rights can be nominated. The award is worth is €60,000, half of which comes from the Parliamentary Assembly while the other half is contributed by the Czech Foreign Ministry.The agreement on the creation of the award was signed at the Czernin Palace in Prague on March 25, 2013 by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Mignon, Marta Smolíková for the Václav Havel Library and Professor František Janouch for the Charta 77 Foundation. The event was hosted by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg.Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent
Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent is an award established in 2012 by the New York City-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF). According to HRF President Thor Halvorssen, the prize recognizes individuals "who engage in creative dissent, exhibiting courage and creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth".Named in honor of Czech dissident playwright and politician Václav Havel, who had died the previous December, the award was founded with the help of his widow, Dagmar Havlová. Google co-founder Sergei Brin and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel provided part of the prize's funding.