Czech government agrees to rename airport after former President Vaclav Havel


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The Independent Online

The Czech government agreed today to rename the country's main airport in Prague to honour deceased former President Vaclav Havel, Czech media reported.

Havel, a former anti-communist dissident and playwright, was jailed by the country's totalitarian rulers before the 1989 bloodless "Velvet Revolution" catapulted him to the presidency.

Havel is acclaimed for his peaceful resistance to the oppressive government in the 1970s and 1980s that inspired human rights campaigners around the world and won him respect from leaders ranging from former US President George Bush to the Dalai Lama.

One of Havel's close aides has protested the plan, saying the former president actually never liked flying.

But the idea that Havel should be remembered by a landmark like the country's main entry port, which served 11.8 million people last year, won wide support across the political scene as well as the country's intellectual elite.

Havel died on December 22 last year, aged 75.

Havel's old-time friend, the still living former Polish dissident-turned-president Lech Walesa, has an airport named after him in the northern Polish city of Gdansk.