Vaclav Havel, a Czech playwright and political figure who became Czechoslovakia’s President following a non-violent uprising in 1989 that ended decades of Soviet rule in that country, died December 18 at the age of 75. Almost immediately upon news of his passing, eulogies lionizing Havel as one of the great “liberators” of the 20th century began flooding the print, broadcast, and Internet media.
Radio Prague hailed Havel as an anti-communist dissident who spent five years in Soviet prisons before being seated as his country’s President in the wake of the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” that dismantled the oppressive communist regime. It also described how Havel helped lead a re-vitalized Czechoslovakia into two separate entities — the Czech Republic and Slovakia — continuing as the Czech Republic President until 2003.
However, not all anti-communists agree with Radio Prague’s assessment. William F. Jasper, senior editor of The New American, who has covered Havel’s career since the late 1980s, said that before we accept the beatification of Havel as Czechoslovakia’s great liberator, it might be worth doing some basic fact checking concerning his record, and to heed the warnings of KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, who accurately predicted the false, controlled “democratization” movements in the communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
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Photo of Vaclav Havel: AP Images