Polish freedom icon Walesa has heart surgery

·1-min read
"I'd like to say I did everything to serve the nation well," Walesa said in an emotional message before going into surgery

Polish freedom icon Lech Walesa on Monday said he was doing fine after undergoing heart surgery, a day after the ex-president issued an emotional video message about the upcoming operation.

"Thank you, everything went well. I feel good," the 77-year-old Nobel peace laureate said on his official Facebook page.

His secretary Marek Kaczmar told AFP earlier that "the boss is back in his hospital bed and is resting" after four and a half hours of surgery.

Walesa is the former leader of the Solidarity labour movement, which in 1989 brought a peaceful end to communism in Poland and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet empire.

On Sunday he published a Facebook video in which he said: "I'm reporting to the hospital. What comes next, only time will tell.

"So, not knowing when we'll meet again or if we will at all, I'd like to say I did everything to serve the nation well," Walesa added.

Before the operation, Kaczmar said that Walesa was due to have a planned battery replacement for his pacemaker but there had been complications.

Working as a shipyard electrician in the Baltic port city of Gdansk, Walesa stunned the communist bloc and the world when he led a 1980 strike by 17,000 shipyard workers.

The communist regime was forced to grudgingly recognise Solidarity as the Soviet bloc's first and only independent trade union after it gained millions of followers across Poland.

Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership of Solidarity in 1983.

He later became Poland's first post-war democratically elected president in 1990.

sw/dt/amj/mas/mjs