Eulogy for Kakha Bendukidze
14 November, 2014
Eulogy for Kakha Bendukidze
Kakha Bendukidze was a remarkable man with many remarkable qualities but of all of them, the one that was most obvious beside his impressive size, was how funny he was. And his humor said a great deal about him. He was a quick thinker, and smarter than almost all of the people he came across, and unusually insightful. But never cruel or cynical. He would make fun of people around him, frequently calling me a socialist because I found his
libertarianism so frustrating. His interviews were a pleasure to watch, and he was as funny in English or Russian as he was in Georgian.

He was an incredible analyst. Originally a biologist, he moved quickly and successfully into business when that became necessary and possible. The root of his success in business was his ability to look at the large complex structure of a company, to understand it and how it worked, how it should work and how to make that happen. He was what is called in America, a turnaround guy. He could make things happen in a company, without getting caught up in distractions. That ability to see the whole, and to understand each part and the role those parts played, that systems thinking, is a rare gift and one he deployed in all he did, in business, government and education.

Georgia is a county very preoccupied with its history, and he knew the details of Georgia's history better than anybody. But like so many people who know history well, he looked into the future farther than most. He worked quickly but had only long term goals. And like so many long term thinkers he had great timing. He was one of the very first successful businessmen in Russia to realize that the arrest of Khodorkovsky was just the start and it was time to cash out and leave. And his timing of leaving the National Movement government was good. Soon after the August 2008 war, he moved on and worked full time on his educational efforts. His time in government was not easy. Misha and his team wanted to end corruption, but they had never run a business or any other large entity. Bendukidze told them how to do it. He was not only the architect, he was the engineer and the general contractor of the process. He called in each part of Shevardnadze's rotten government and tried to figure out a way to get rid of it. He moved as many processes as he could off paper and online to better prevent or at least be able to identify state corruption. And it worked. The days of waiting for pieces of paper and official stamps that was such a frustrating part of the Shevardnadze era are gone thanks to him and his vision.

Less known or obvious but just as important was his kindness. He helped many people. Despite how hard he made those around him work, they all loved him and not just because he worked hardest of all. He micro-managed but listened and would change his mind if a good case was made. He yelled but respected. Most of all he cared so much. He believed so deeply in what he was doing. In the end that is worth more than anything, to be a part of a group that works hard and believes deeply in what it is doing. Other than that team, he was alone. The people he worked with were his family and they all treated each other like family.

He clearly believed in liberal economics and felt that the best government would be as small as possible and let business do more or less what it wanted. I don't agree with that vision but he had good reason to mistrust governments looking at their record in the places and times he'd lived. I wouldn't say he was pro-western. He was pro-market. He was practical and didn't care for those abstractions. He loved Russia was not at all anti-Russian. In fact he spent considerable funds bringing Russian students from the very top universities to come to Georgia and look around, chat, eat drink and talk about business, government, and reform. Those trips were probably the single most important sponsored exchange between Russia and Georgia over the last ten years.

Despite the many millions he has put of his own money into Georgia's higher education, he was investigated for corruption related to the Agriculture University. It was clearly politically motivated and he won the case. But I suspect there are those in the current administration that would like to get their hands on the educational infrastructure he has built. It will be a sad commentary on them if they find some trick to take it from his successors. He looked into Georgia's past and into Georgia's future and saw more clearly than anybody. And his vision of the future of Georgia was optimistic. One in which the government would leave people alone so that they could innovate, work and become prosperous. So let's all make that happen. But it won't be as fun without him.

Print
Other Stories
The two sides of Georgia
On my first few days in Tbilisi, I stumbled across these two contrasting slogans. One is a testimony of open-mindedness and tolerance,
Mentally Ill or Not?
“The brain is wider than the sky.” Emily Dickinson.
Shall We Dance?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche.
Are We the Same or Just Getting Better?
Georgian-born Mancho Busse has been working in hospitality business for many years by now. Her husband, Robin Busse, works for the State Department of The United States,
Eco-Friendly Habits: How to Clean Your Off-Roading Vehicle Responsibly
Irresponsible waste disposal practices continue to have drastic effects on the environment.
 5 Techniques for Finding Your Inner Creativity
Whether you’re a writer, artist, or even a marketing executive, you’ve probably had days where you felt completely uninspired.
A suitcase full of wine and a heart full of memories
I left Switzerland and arrived in Tbilisi on December 28.
Five Reasons to Visit Georgia in 2017
If you've been searching for a unique place to vacation in 2017, the beautiful country of Georgia holds some hidden treasures.
PROMISING FUTURE OF COLLABORATION
“All roads lead to Rome” – states one of the most famous medieval proverbs. It’s fascinating to think how much the narrow streets and glorious walls of this eternal city have seen.
It’s Not So Bad, Chaps- Just Look at the Yanks: Ogden on Comparable Politics
Electoral fever is dying down in Georgia as it ramps up in the United States.
 “Moral Inversion” - Pre-election period in Georgia
Georgian pre-election period can be classified as “Moral Inversion”, a notion first put forward by Michael Polanyi.
America’s Trump Card
Like it or not, the name of the 45th American President will most likely be Donald Trump.
Clock is not counting down, it is adding up!
On Saturday for the ceremony in Charleston, instead of wedding gifts, the Managing Editor of Georgian Journal, Will Cathcart
A Protectionist Perspective: Ensuring A Georgian Future
Unlike many of my compatriots, I view my country as a sentient creature, a single organism. The mountains
Back in BSSR
"I remember that when I was a schoolgirl, they told us we have to be ready to give our lives for the motherland.
Thank you, father, for saving me from USSR!
On the 11th of October, the population of Belarus has elected Alexander Lukashenko to serve his fifth term
The EU Getting Squeezed in Georgia
Recent polls have shown that the EU is less and less popular in Georgia. The reason is that they
What is Georgia’s Military For?
There are two possible uses for Georgia’s military. The first would be to fight a war with an external threat or by its existence, to deter
Protohack
Last weekend I went to a hackathon in San Francisco called Protohack. In the former Soviet Union, people tend to think of hacking
European Migrant Crisis: The good, the bad and the liar
“I call an animal, a species, an individual corrupt, when it loses its instincts, when it prefers what is injurious
Refugees in Georgia
The people of Syria see the Assad regime weakening, and considering who may take over and what they might
David and Goliath: A Realpolitik Rendition
A Conservative Contrarian View on Georgia’s Geopolitical Dilemma
The Bleeding of Rustavi 2 - Our New August Surprise
When the powerful have to make something happen that they want few people to notice, they issue the statement late in the afternoon
The Good Neighbor
In 2012, Georgia was promised to witness what ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili called “a new age.” It would be achieved by “restarting”
Independence, Institutions and Corruption
People talk about Georgia choosing between Russia and the West as if Georgia ended up at a soccer game and, well, since we’re here we may
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
17.11.2018
18.11.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6727
2.6727
EUR
1
EUR
3.0268
3.0268
GBP
1
GBP
3.4240
3.4240
RUB
100
RUB
4.0447
4.0447
Other Stories
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6727
EUR
1
EUR
3.0268
GBP
1
GBP
3.4240
RUB
100
RUB
4.0447
November 2018
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30