Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On this day: Havel elected president

After 40 years of Soviet Occupation, the Velvet Revolution liberated the Czechs from their Russian oppressors, and they created a democratic government. A month and a half later, 20 years ago today, playwright and intellectual  Vaclav Havel was elected to the presidency unanimously by the Federal Assembly, which he retained months later in a full, free election. He'd generally maintain the presidency during the breakup of Czechoslovakia, and hold the Czech Republic's presidency until 2003.

Vaclav Havel's relevance peaked, of course, in 1989 and 1990, and continued to be rather high during his presidency. However, it's interesting to note the Prague Spring in the late 1960s, when Havel had plays performed in the Czech Republic, which were then banned. Compared with his presidency, it was not high at all, but it does show the relevance he had when press was somewhat free in that time period—and not for a while afterwards.

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