Radim Palous, leading Czech anti-communist dissident and Charles University rector, dies at 90

Radim Palous, a leading anti-communist dissident and the first rector of Prague's Charles University after the collapse of communism, has died.

The university says Palous died Thursday at the age of 90.

Palous was persecuted by the communist regime and was among the first to sign the Charter 77 human rights manifesto inspired by Vaclav Havel. He became its spokesman in 1982 and '83, organized illegal classes of philosophy and helped publish banned books.

During the 1989 Velvet Revolution, he was among the leaders of the Civic Forum that oversaw the transition to democracy. As Charles University rector, Palous helped reform university education. He was also a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

He was honored by universities in the United States, Britain and other countries.