- Title: Czechs name Prague square for Havel on his 80th anniversary
- Date: 5th October 2016
- Summary: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (OCTOBER 5, 2016) (REUTERS) NEWLY NAMED VACLAV HAVEL SQUARE IN FRONT OF NATIONAL THEATRE IN PRAGUE PEOPLE SIGNING ON SYMBOLIC RED HEART REPRESENTING VACLAV HAVEL'S HEART HAVEL'S SIGNATURE ALSO IN RED ON WALL OVER HEART VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WRITING MESSAGES TO HAVEL ON HEART (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) TOURIST, MARKETA KRALOVA, SAYING: "He meant a lot to me - I read his work and saw his plays. I honour him for what he achieved. He is very much missed." MOTHER WITH CHILD WRITING MESSAGE MESSAGE ON HEART READING (Czech): "Vasek (Havel's nickname) come back - we need you. Czech nation." (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) PRAGUE RESIDENT, SIMONA KVASNOVSKA, SAYING: "He wanted the best for us. I can't tell you more." (CRYING) (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) STUDENT, JAROSLAV SUCHY, SAYING: "I respect Vaclav Havel very much and that's why I am now at the new Vaclav Havel Square, to write a message for him on this heart." PEOPLE SIGNING HEART SIGN READING (Czech): "VACLAV HAVEL SQUARE" VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WRITING MESSAGES PEOPLE OBSERVING BANNER ANNOUNCING COMMEMORATION EVENTS AT NATIONAL THEATRE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WRITING MESSAGES ON HEART
- Embargoed: 20th October 2016 17:27
- Keywords: Vaclav Havel tribute Prague
- Location: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
- City: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
- Country: Czech Republic
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA00152QC9BT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Czechs paid tribute to their late playwright-president Vaclav Havel on what would have been his 80th birthday on Wednesday (October 5) by holding meetings and concerts and naming a small Prague square in his honour.
Havel, a writer and human rights campaigner, was jailed by the communist government before being swept to power in the 1989 "Velvet Revolution". He was Czechoslovak president from 1989 to 1992 and then Czech president until 2003. He died in 2011.
Many Czechs remember the soft-spoken, pro-western intellectual with a touch of nostalgia, especially in the light of a rise in anti-European Union and anti-refugee sentiment in the central European country.
There were no high-profile official celebrations of the anniversary, though the cabinet held a minute of silence, and small plaza at the modern part of the Czech National Theatre was named after Havel on the occasion.
Many stopped at the downtown Prague plaza -- a place which, ironically, Havel considered ugly -- to leave notes on a two-metre sculpture of a red heart, a reference to a drawing Havel used to add to his signature.
"He meant a lot to me - I read his works and I saw his plays. I honour him for his achievements. He is very much missed," said Marketa Kralova, one of those who came to pay her respects.
"I respect Vaclav Havel very much and that's why I am now at the new Vaclav Havel Square, to write a message for him on this heart," said a young student, Jaroslaw Suchy.
The main public meeting of Wednesday's celebrations, along with a rock concert organised by an ad hoc civic group, was planned for Wednesday evening at Prague's Wenceslas Square, the site of the main anti-communist protests in 1989.
Havel is not a universally adored leader. He had a rocky relationship with his successors as president, Vaclav Klaus and the current President Milos Zeman, neither of whom joined the commemorations.
He was also no hero for those who oppose the country's western course, and drew criticism for supporting the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and the war in Iraq.
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