Václav Havel grew up in a circle which maintained Czechoslovakia’s independent culture in defiance of the Communist regime of the time. Excluded from higher education, he made his name in the 1960s with satirical plays which contributed to the intellectual atmosphere of the Prague Spring. During the normalisation period which followed the Soviet invasion he took menial jobs whilst his work was published in samizdat. He was one of the first three spokesmen for Charter 77, and a member of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted. He was sentenced to four and a half years’ hard labour, resulting in a breakdown in his health. After his release in 1983 he continued to be a leading member of the opposition movement which culminated in the Velvet Revolution of 1989.He was elected the first President of a free Czechoslovakia and subsequently of the Czech Republic.
President Havel donated the financial part of his award to Andrej Dynko, the editor-in-chief of the indepependent Belarusian newspaper Nasha Niva. Openly critical to President Lukashenko’s regime, and the only major newspaper written in Belarusian, Nasha Niva has become an important symbol of freedom and independence. Dynko is a Graduate from Minsk State Linguistic University, and holds an MA in International Relations. Until August 2000, he also taught at his Alma Mater.
From 2002, Dynko has been the Vice-President of the Belarusian PEN Center.