World Wide Web Links to the Caucasus

President Bill Clinton has one. So does the world's richest man, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates. Now Eduard Shevardnadze, leader of the Republic of Georgia, will also have an Internet address.

The former Soviet Union is famous for its bad phones, and Georgia has some of the worst. Parts of the system pre-date the 1917 Russian revolution. But the silver-haired former Soviet foreign minister will be able to surf the Internet thanks to a special line installed by the United States Agency for International Development.

USAID on Tuesday put the Georgian parliament, which Mr. Shevardnadze leads, on-line via a special link in Washington.

The Georgian leader was thrilled. ''Georgia will not only utilize its presence on the Internet as a tool for keeping the international community abreast of developments in our country, it will use it to gain access to vast stores of information,'' he said. USAID officials could not say what Shevardnadze's Internet address would be.

Eventually, other residents will be able to join Shevardnadze for a stroll around the World Wide Web. USAID plans to expand the system to private users.

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