(Michael Winfrey's and Jana Mlcochova’s Reuters article appeared, 12/18; via the Drudge Report.) 

PRAGUE Vaclav Havel, a dissident playwright jailed by Communists who became Czech president and a worldwide symbol of peace and freedom after leading the bloodless "Velvet Revolution," died at 75 on Sunday.

The former chain smoker died at his country home in Hradecek, north of Prague, of a long respiratory illness after surviving operations for lung cancer and a burst intestine in the late 1990s that left him frail for more than a decade.

The diminutive playwright, who invited the Rolling Stones to medieval Prague castle, took Bill Clinton to a smoky Prague jazz club to play saxophone and was a friend of the Dalai Lama, rose to fame after facing down Prague's Communist rulers.

"His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon," President Barack Obama said in a statement.


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