kakha bendukidze

Friends wrote on Facebook that Kakha Bendukidze died in a hotel room in London. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Former Georgian economy minister Kakha Bendukidze died Thursday in London, aged 58.

Bendukidze was an important strategist for the economic liberalization which started during President Saakashvili from 2004.

Friends and acquaintances wrote on Facebook that Bendukidze went to Switzerland for a heart operation and from there was allowed to fly to London, but shortly after the flight he felt bad and died in his hotel room. The cause of death was reported as heart problems.

From June to December 2004, Bendukidze was minister of economy, then from 2004 to 2008 he was minister for economic reforms coordination and then chaired the government chancellery for a year until 2009.

The economic policy he advocated aimed at making it as smooth as possible for foreign investors to operate in Georgia, which succeeded in the sense that the country achieved high placings on the World Bank’s ease of doing business list.

But his policy also involved removing legal protection for employees, which contributed to a dangerous work environment in Georgia’s mines and industry and laid the foundation for politically motivated firings during Saakashvili – a major cause of the climate of fear which many Georgians will remember a few years ago.

Most recently he was invited to be member of a council for the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy working with reforms.

He also founded two universities in Tbilisi, the Free University and the Agriculture University.