December 21, 2011 |
DALLAS - They are just two letters, a "V" and "H," together on the back of his helmet. They sit inconspicuously across from the NHL shield that is stuck on every dome in the league. The letters, worn by Flyers forwards Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek, are the initials of Vaclav Havel, the former Czech Republic president who died Sunday. And they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Jagr, still his country's biggest pop-culture icon, is not just paying homage to the life of a courageous defender of freedom as his civic duty.
December 20, 2011 |
Czech President Vaclav Klaus and the widow of Vaclav Havel agreed to hold a state funeral Friday as citizens waited as long as three hours to pay their last respects to the anti-communist dissident playwright who became president. The government declared a state of mourning beginning Wednesday and leading into the first state funeral in more than 30 years, Premier Petr Necas said Monday. European Union sessions in Brussels, Belgium, held a minute of silence to honor Havel, the first post-communist Czech head of state, who died Sunday.
December 19, 2011 |
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - Vaclav Havel rose from a difficult life as a dissident playwright hounded by secret police to a symbol of freedom and political champion of Czechoslovakia's 1989 Velvet Revolution. He went on to become president of the Czech Republic and was embraced worldwide as a liberation statesman. He died of respiratory disease at 75 yesterday. A talented playwright for three decades before his first election as president in 1990, he had helped rally dissident intellectuals behind the nonviolent overthrow of Czechoslovakia's 41-year-old Communist government.
December 19, 2011 |
Vaclav Havel, 75, the writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of communist rule helped to destroy it in revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall and swept Mr. Havel himself into power, died in the Czech Republic on Sunday. A Czech Embassy spokesman in Paris, Michal Dvorak, said in a statement that Mr. Havel, a heavy smoker for decades who almost died during surgery for lung cancer in 1996, had been suffering from severe respiratory ailments since the spring. "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 Obama said Sunday.
November 14, 2011 |
Jaromir Jagr doesn't remember posing for the photo. It was 17 years ago, when he was 22 and already one of the best hockey players in the world. The NHL was in the midst of a work stoppage at the time, and Jagr, then with the Pittsburgh Penguins, had returned to his hometown of Kladno, Czech Republic, where adoring fans greeted him. How many photos did Jagr take with those admirers back then? How many hands did he shake? How many kids did he meet who dreamed that they were No. 68? But what was trivial to Jagr became a talisman to the other person who appears in the picture: a then-5-year-old who also grew up in Kladno, an industrial town of around 70,000 about 17 miles west of Prague.
May 28, 2010 |
It is no minor accomplishment that the Wilma Theater secured the U.S. premiere of Leaving, the first new play in 20 years by former Czech dissident, playwright, poet, and president V?clav Havel. It also, however, fits naturally with director Jiri Zizka's absurdist leanings, his own ties to the Velvet Revolution (subscriber's bonus: last season's Rock and Roll, by Czech-born Tom Stoppard, is almost a primer for this work), and the Wilma's reputation as a home for new plays of international importance.
October 30, 2005 |
Teeny flakes of snow were dropping steadily in Prague at the beginning of my winter journey to Europe. Snow is a blessing for winter sports, but I was trying to tour like a summer nomad, visiting parks and museums and churches and restaurants. In the late afternoon in Prague, I walked out of my hotel into a fine white cloud of the freezing stuff. My friends had told me I was bonkers for touring Europe the first week of March. They were vacationing in places where the sun was actually able to warm something - the Caribbean Sea, for instance.
November 19, 2004 |
A group of Iraqi politicians came here this month to learn how to build a democratic state from the ashes of totalitarianism. The Czechs know a thing or two about this tricky business - all the better to provide the cautionary tales for those who must try to grow something so fragile as democracy in the violence and chaos of Iraq. Better even than going to learn in America, where democracy has been around a long time and where how it all began is found in history books. Sallama al-Khafaji, an independent member of the interim Iraqi National Assembly, was impressed with what she saw at polling sites as the citizens of the Czech Republic cast ballots in parliamentary voting.
February 10, 2003
Poetry is dangerous. At least, despots, tyrants and commissariats have always thought so. Despots tend to jail and kill wielders of words if the words they use seem dangerous. On Feb. 2, V?clav Havel, poet, playwright, fan of American rock, and former flower child, ended his 13-year career as the president of first Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic. He was Europe's longest currently-serving president - a surprise, in view of the fractious politics and pervasive dissatisfactions in his country.
January 21, 1999 |
Debate is growing in the Czech Republic over the declining fortunes of Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright-turned-president who attained near-legendary status after spearheading Czechoslovakia's drive to bring down its Soviet-styled communist regime in 1989. Havel, 62 and plagued by health problems and a string of political miscues, now finds himself the target of a growing list of political opponents, a hostile media, and an increasingly skeptical public questioning whether the time has come for the hero of the 1989 Velvet Revolution to step aside.