Kakha Bendukidze, who was behind many of Georgia’s anti-corruption and liberal economic reforms under ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration, died on November 13 in London aged 58.
Cause of death was not immediately clear. Bendukidze’s friends and colleagues in Tbilisi said he had recently undergone stent surgery.
“I am shocked and horrified,” ex-president Saakashvili wrote on his Facebook page. “Today he was not responding to my SMS messages for the first time. I was surprised and then I was informed [about Bendukidze’s death].”
Bendukidze, who amassed wealth in Russia in 1990s, moved back to Georgia in 2004, when he was appointed as economy minister.
Several years ago Bendukidze started investing in education sector in Georgia, launching the Free University, and also invested in the Agrarian University.
Bendukidze was one of the members of the Ukrainian government’s international expert council tasked with advising on economic reforms.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko expressed condolences to Bendukidze’s family, friends and to “those millions for whom [Bendukidze] was and still remains driving force for big changes.”
Висловлюю щирі співчуття рідним і близьким Кахи Бендукідзе,а також мільйонам тих,для кого він був і залишиться двигуном великих змін. R.I.P.— Петро Порошенко (@poroshenko) November 13, 2014
Students at univ he founded saying goodbye tonight to the great-souled Kakha Bendukidze pic.twitter.com/QQe3BkE9Dh— tomgpalmer (@tomgpalmer) November 13, 2014
Georgian reform godfather & cantankerous walrusalike Kakha Bendukidze is dead. Funniest, smartest source Iâ€™ve known. https://t.co/StgdTOEhEr— max seddon (@maxseddon) November 13, 2014
Just canâ€™t believe the news.what massive loss and blow to all,already struggling,reformers across post-soviet space http://t.co/UY5goiZRqZ— natalia antelava (@antelava) November 14, 2014
Biiig Georgian libertarian and my dear friend Kakha #Bendukidze passed away. RIP freedom fighter! We will do what we owe you, be sure.— Vato LeJava (@vatolejava) November 14, 2014
Unlike most oligarchs Kakha Bendukidze will not be remembered for the money he made but for the country he built!— Fady Asly (@fadyasly) November 14, 2014
#Bendukidze was among the few of those Geo businessman who invested in the most right sector - Education— David Uchadze (@DavidUchadze) November 13, 2014