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Havel, Václav, 1936-, Czech dramatist and essayist, president of Czechoslovakia (1989-92) and the Czech Republic (1993-2003). The most original Czech dramatist to emerge in the 1960s, Havel soon antagonized the political power structure by focusing on the senselessness and absurdity of mechanized, totalitarian society in plays that implicitly criticized the government such as The Garden Party (1963, tr. 1969) and The Memorandum (1965, tr. 1967) and in various essays of the 1960s and 70s. As a leading spokesman for the dissident group Charter 77, he was imprisoned (1979-83) by the Czechoslovak Communist regime, and his plays were banned.

Havel was the principal spokesman for the Civic Forum, an opposition group, when it succeeded in forcing (1989) the Communist party to share power, and he became interim president of Czechoslovakia. He was elected president of Czechoslovakia after the collapse of Communism in 1990 and resigned in 1992 prior to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, to which he was opposed. He was elected president of the new Czech Republic in 1993 and reelected in 1998. As president he tended toward a social democratic approach to social and economic issues, strongly supporting civil liberties and human rights and an eastward-expanding NATO. He retired from the presidency in 2003. Havel's works include Protocols (essays and poems, 1966), Letters to Olga (1983, tr. 1989), Three Vanek Plays (1990), Open Letters: Selected Writings 1965-1990 (1991), Summer Meditations (1991, tr. 1992), and Selected Plays, 1984-87 (1994).

See his memoir, To the Castle and Back (2007); interview ed. by P. Wilson (tr. 1990); biography by M. Simmons (1991); collections of essays on Havel, ed. by J. Vladislav (1986) and M. Goetz-Stankiewicz and P. Carey (1999); study by J. Keane (2000).

Havel, river, c.215 mi (350 km) long, rising in the lake region of Mecklenburg, N Germany. It flows generally S through West Berlin to Potsdam where it turns west. At Brandenburg it turns northwest and enters the Elbe River near Havelberg. It is navigable for most of its length. The Spree River, its chief tributary, joins it at Spandau. The Havel is linked with the Oder River by the Oder-Spree Canal. During the Soviet blockade of Berlin (1948) the Havel was used as a runway for amphibian aircraft.
The Havel (ˈhaːfəl) is a river in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is a right tributary of the Elbe river and 325 km in length. Extended by the Oder-Havel Canal it connects the Oder with Berlin and the Elbe.

The source of the Havel is located in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern between Lake Müritz and the city of Neubrandenburg. It has no source as usual but source lakes in the Diekenbruch near Ankershagen, so you cannot see any water pouring out somewhere, and this lakes are situated right beside the water divide between the North and Baltic Sea. Thus located south-east from the water divide it flows toward the Elbe and the North Sea, every river north-east of it flows to the Baltic Sea. The territory of Brandenburg is entered near the town of Fürstenberg. In its upper part and between Berlin and Brandenburg an der Havel the river forms several lakes. Its main tributary is the Spree river, which joins the Havel in Spandau, a western borough of Berlin, at the junction being longer and delivering more water than the Havel itself. The second largest tributary is the Rhin, in the Middle Ages named by settlers from the lower Rhine. At the southern end of the Ruppiner See, weirs can distribute the waters of the Rhin either east- or westwards, connecting to the Havel in places 67km by air, or more than 160 km of river apart. The region around and north of the central part of the Havel is called Havelland. It consists of sandy hills and low marshes. On the last few kilometres the Havel flows in the territory of Saxony-Anhalt, where it enters the Elbe near Havelberg. Due to its minimal gradient it is liable to high waters of the Elbe.

In earlier Greek or Latin sources, such as in Tacitus' Germania the name of the river was also written as Habola, Habula, Havela. The river name Havel is related to German Haff, habe, hafen, MHG Hafen meaning port, harbor).

When later Slavic people moved into the Havel river area, they were in German sources called Heveller (very seldom Havolane). People continued living around the river Havel. They built four important bridges, in Spandau, in Potsdam, in Brandenburg an in a western suburb of that town and Berlin has a large number of bridges.

Towns on the course of the river include: Zehdenick, Oranienburg, Berlin, Potsdam, Werder, Brandenburg, Premnitz, Rathenow and Havelberg.

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