Havel to launch library

November 26, 2004

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has launched his own modest version of an American presidential library that seeks to preserve the memory of how his country overthrew 40 years of Communist rule.

It is 15 years since Czech police and paratroopers used batons and unmuzzled guard dogs to break up a demonstration by 50,000 student pro-democracy demonstrators in Prague, which sparked the overthrow.

Mr Havel - in 1989 a leader of the dissident movement - said the archive should explain to the new generation the nature of totalitarianism and the circumstances surrounding its collapse.

Mr Havel said he hoped to find sponsorship and permanent premises for the library, the core of which would be formed around his own collection in his Prague offices.

"My age is growing along with the number of my diseases and I realised how many things I have in boxes and attics and that it would be a pity to leave them decaying somewhere," Mr Havel said during the launch.

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