VÁCLAV BENDA is considered one of the symbols of Czech dissent and the post-November movement. In 1998, he received a Distinguished Service Medal for his life-long achievements and attitudes.
He was born on 8 August 1946 in Prague. He studied Czech studies and philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, where he also taught from 1969 – 1970. After Normalisation’s purges, he studied theoretical cybernetics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University, and after his studies he worked as a computer expert. After signing Charter 77, he made a living as a boiler operator. For his activities in the Committee for the Protection of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS), he was imprisoned from 1979 – 1983 for “subverting the Republic”. Twice he was the spokesperson for Charter 77 (1979 and 1984) and he was one of the founders of the Christian-Democratic stream in the Movement for Civic Freedom. After November 1989, he was co-opted to the Federal Assembly for the Civic Forum in December of the same year. In the same month, he became the Chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, which he co-founded. From 1994, he worked as the Director of the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism. In 1996, he was elected Senator for Prague 1, 2, and 7 for ODS. He died on 2 June 1999.