(PRAGUE, Czech Republic)
In 1989, Czech playwright Vaclav Havel went from jailed dissident to president of a free and independent nation.
On today's 20th anniversary of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, Havel tells RFE/RL that America's crucial contribution to the collapse of the Soviet Union was its public support for dissidents and human rights. [WATCH
"The U.S. indeed did not try to provoke any revolutions," says Havel. "They supported human rights activists and expressed solidarity with them. When American officials came here, they met with dissidents."
...the snowball that triggered an avalanche.
Havel calls the November 17, 1989 student demonstration that was forcibly put down by police, "the snowball that triggered an avalanche."
"No one knew what the snowball would be and when it would happen precisely -- we weren't soothsayers -- but it was clear that sooner or later it had to happen." [WATCH the full interview