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Farewell to "Velvet Revolution" leader Havel

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 02:11

Dec. 19 - Czechs mourn the loss of former President Havel, the playwright turned President. Deborah Lutterbeck reports

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Hundreds of mourners line the streets of Prague to say their farewells to former Czech President Vaclav Havel -- the playwright who became president after leading a "velvet revolution" against communist rule. Inside Prague's St. Anna Church at a cultural center, which Havel founded, mourners place red roses in front of Havel's coffin. Havel was president of Czechoslovakia from December 29, 1989 until 1992, and then of the Czech Republic from 1993 until he retired in 2003. (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) CZECH CITIZEN, SAYING: "He brought moral credit to our Republic, he brought democracy and freedom, mainly for our children. He gave us power, and had no fear." Lines also formed to sign condolence books at Prague Castle. It was the seat of power which Havel entered as president in 1989, just weeks after the bloodless revolt in Czechoslovakia, and fall of the Berlin Wall announced the end of Europe's Cold War divide. In Poland former president Lech Walesa responded to the news. SOUNDBITE (Polish) LECH WALESA, FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT, SAYING: "Well, it is sad news indeed. But everyone dies eventually. My generation, as we were almost the same age, is needed more and more on the other side. A great man, a meritorious man. We will all miss him. Shall he rest in peace." Havel died Sunday at his country home after a long respiratory illness. Starting on Wednesday, his body lie in the more formal surroundings of Prague Castle. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

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Farewell to "Velvet Revolution" leader Havel

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 02:11