The dissident Czech playwright and essayist Vaclav Havel (pictured), who was a long time opponent of Soviet communist rule in the former Warsaw Pact state of Czechoslovakia, has died at the age of 75.

Through his writing, which was circulated largely through underground channels following the Soviet crackdown on dissent during the Prague Spring of 1968, he criticized the puppet regime that controlled his country and its citizens. Then in the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union was crumbling, he helped achieve independance for his homeland via the largely non-violent Velvet Revolution.

As president in the early ’90s, Havel opposed the division of Czechoslovakia into the separate countries of Czech Republic and Slovakia that exist today. But once the break-up occured, he served two terms as Czech president, and left office in 2003 .

Here’s a link to the BBC report.