Flowers for Václav Havel on November 17. via Raymond Johnston

Series of events in Prague marks anniversary of death of former Czech president Václav Havel

A plaque commemorating late president Václav Havel (1936-2011) was unveiled on the apartment where he was born and lived for 40 years

Prague, Dec 18 (CTK) – A plaque commemorating the late Czech dissident, playwright and first post communist president Václav Havel (1936-2011) was unveiled on the apartment house on Prague’s Rasin Embankment, where he was born and lived for more than 40 years, on the eighth anniversary of his death today.

Havel’s younger brother Ivan, who still lives in the house, was among those attending the ceremony.

The plaque, designed by architect Petr Hajek, is made of resin, with a sheet of paper conserved inside, which bears the inscription “I lived here, too, Václav Havel.”

Its unveiling was initiated by Jaroslav Solc, a deputy mayor of the Prague 2 district where the house is situated.

Prague 2 Mayor Jana Cernochova said the plaque corresponds to Havel’s nature. “It is very modest, very simple, and also very witty. Simply, it is Havel-like,” Cernochova told reporters.

Ivan Havel said his brother moved out from the house twice in his life. For the first time, he moved to Prague-Dejvice after marrying his first wife Olga in the 1960s. His second departure was for Prague Castle in his capacity as president.

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Dozens of people turned up at the Jungmann Square in the centre of Prague to light candles for Václav Havel on his death anniversary today, with dozens of burning candles forming a heart, a symbol Havel liked to use, on the pavement.

People also alternated in reading excerpts from Havel’s works. Excerpts were read not only in Czech but also in English, Slovak, Ukrainian and Polish.

Popular priest and philosopher Tomas Halik, former culture minister Daniel Herman and sociologist Jirina Siklova were among the readers.

The Candle for Václav Havel event, which the Politics and Conscience civic group organised for the fourth time, will culminate with an evening mass celebrated in the nearby Church of Our Lady of the Snows.

Events in commemoration of Havel have also been held at other places in Prague and elsewhere in the country, including Hradecek, east Bohemia, where Havel and his first wife Olga often hosted dissident parties in their summer house, and where Havel died on December 18, 2011, aged 75.

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Visitors streamed to Hradecek to light candles at the house.

“We think the country will have no such personality for a long time or possibly never more,” Vlastimil Hatl, one of the visitors who turned up together with his family, told CTK.

Havel bought the Hradecek house in the second half of the 1960s. It was there where the Charter 77 human rights manifesto and the A Few Sentences pro-democracy petition came into being during the hardline communist regime.

Havel also often visited Hradecek when he was president, and received officials there now and then, including then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 1999.

Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia in 1989-1992 and the first president of the independent Czech Republic in 1993-2003. He died eight years ago in consequence of long-lasting health troubles. Czech and world politicians expressed grief at his death, and Czech people organised spontaneous mourning events, which have repeated annually on his death anniversary since.

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On December 19-20, 2011, the coffin with Havel’s remains was displayed in the former St Anna church, the seat of the Prague Crossroads cultural centre he founded in the early 2000s, where thousands of people turned up to to say farewell to him.

Afterwards, the coffin was transferred in a funeral march to the Tuscany Palace near Prague Castle, and then to the Castle’s Vladislav Hall on a gun carriage.

The state funeral, attended by a number of foreign guests, was held in St Vitus Cathedral on December 23, 2011, with the Czech government declaring three-day national mourning on December 21-23. Havel, together with his first wife Olga (1933-1996), are buried in their family tomb in the Vinohrady cemetery in Prague.

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