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Russian ombudsman represents Russia at funeral of Vaclav Havel

December 23, 2011, 16:54 UTC+3

Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin will be present at the funeral of former Czech president Vaclav Havel

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MOSCOW, December 21 (Itar-Tass) — Russian ombudsman Vladimir Lukin will be present at the funeral of former Czech president Vaclav Havel.

In an interview with Itar-Tass Lukin said he is going to the funeral on his own initiative but he will also express condolences on behalf of the Russian leadership at the request of the Russian president.

"It was my own initiative. I have informed the Foreign Ministry and the Russian leadership, their reaction was positive. Moreover, the Russian president has asked me to express his condolences", Lukin said.

The Russian ombudsman said that he knew Vaclav Havel personally. The Czech Republic is "a special country to me," Lukin said. He reminded of the fact that he had worked in Prague for three years, but was dismissed because he objected to the deployment of the Soviet troops in the former Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Lukin said he has good, close relations with many people he knew in that period, including ombudsmen, dissidents he knew in 1968 and 1989. "Some of them are alive yet and I hope to see them, but some are already gone," Lukin said.

Vaclav Havel passed away on December 18 at the age of 75. Havel was the last president of former Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. Before going into politics Vaclav Havel gained international recognition as a writer, playwright and ombudsman.

Vaclav Havel will be buried with state honors on Friday. A mourning ceremony for the former Czech president will be attended by leaders of foreign countries, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ex-president of the United States Bill Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of Austria Heinz Fischer.

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