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'Velvet Revolution' icon Vaclav Havel dead at 75

Petar Kujundzic / Reuters file

Presidential candidate Vaclav Havel waves to his supporters from a balcony in Prague in this Dec. 19, 1989 file photo. Havel, a dissident playwright who was jailed by Communists and then went on to lead the bloodless "Velvet Revolution" and become Czech president, died at 75 on Dec. 18, 2011.

From msnbc.com news services:

"Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred," Havel famously said. It became his revolutionary motto which he said he always strove to live by.

Havel was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and collected dozens of other accolades worldwide for his efforts as a global ambassador of conscience, defended the downtrodden from Darfur to Myanmar.

Among his many honors were Sweden's prestigious Olof Palme Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian award, bestowed on him by President George W. Bush for being "one of liberty's great heroes."

An avowed peacenik whose heroes included rockers such as Frank Zappa, he never quite shed his flower-child past and often signed his name with a small heart as a flourish.

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Petr David Josek / AP

People gather under a Czech national flag as thousands mark the passing of former Czech president Vaclav Havel at the Venceslaw's square in Prague, Czech Republic, Sunday, Dec. 18.

Vaclav Havel, the leader of the "Velvet Revolution" that toppled Communist rule of Czechoslovakia, died after a long illness at 75 in his country home north of Prague. CNBC's Mandy Drury reports.