Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Zurab Zhvania, who resigned yesterday, has not decided whether he will run for the presidency at the next election in 2005. In a televised address broadcast by the Tbilisi television station Rustavi 2 on Friday, Mr. Zhvania stated that "at this point" he did not want to comment on whether he would run for president. Mr. Zhvania said, "to become part of the opposition movement is not a goal in itself" for him. The former head of parliament stressed that "in the future" he will "do his best to permit the future leadership of the country and the president to continue building a democratic state and expanding Georgia's cooperation with European institutions and NATO." The presidential term of the current Georgian president, Eduard Shevardnadze, will be over in 2005. According to the constitution, the same person can serve as a president only twice. Mr. Shevardnadze, who is now 74, has been elected president twice, in 1995 and 2000. In 1992-1995 he held a position as "the chairman of the parliament/head of the country."
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea