Havel Celebrates 75th Birthday

Posted October 1st, 2011 at 9:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Czech president and playwright Vaclav Havel celebrated his 75th birthday Saturday in Prague, surrounded by some 500 friends, family members and supporters.

The party at an art gallery gathered foreign and domestic dignitaries, including former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who is of Czech origin. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and former Polish dissident Adam Michnik also attended.

Mr. Havel has been out of the public eye in recent months while recovering from a respiratory illness.

A famous playwright in the 1960s and anti-communism icon in former Czechoslovakia, he was jailed during the early 1980s. In 1989 he became the fist non-communist president of Czechoslovakia. After Slovakia declared independence from Prague in 1993, he was re-elected as Czech president and served two terms in office.

Mr. Havel has suffered from respiratory problems for many years, stemming largely from heavy smoking and imprisonment by the communist regime.

Since his retirement, he has focused on promoting human rights in the world.