Mr. Havel was his country’s first democratically elected president after the nonviolent “Velvet Revolution” that ended four decades of repression by a regime he ridiculed as “Absurdistan.”
As president, he oversaw the country’s bumpy transition to democracy and a free-market economy, as well its peaceful 1993 breakup into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Even out of office, he remained a world figure. He was part of the “new Europe” — in the coinage of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — of ex-communist countries that stood up for the United States when the democracies of “old Europe” opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion…
Mr. Havel was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and collected dozens of accolades worldwide for his efforts as a global ambassador of conscience, defended the downtrodden from Darfur to Myanmar.