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Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

H.E. Václav Havel

His Excellency Václav Havel (1936-2011) was a defining figure of late 20th-century Europe. Following the Russian invasion in August 1968, Havel realized that could no longer remain silent—his career as a human rights activist began. He began producing an underground radio broadcast, became the leader of the Prague street demonstrations in 1989, and was the chief behind-the-scenes negotiator who brought about the end to the communist regime. Following the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, Havel was chosen as the president and, eventually, became the President of the Czech Republic in 1993. He firmly linked the country to the West, paving the way for the Czech Republic to join NATO and the EU. Havel helped found Charter 77, the longest enduring human rights movement in the region. He was also an avid playwright, and many of his play were extremely successful. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation awarded him the Truman-Reagan Medal of freedom in 2003.