Repression museum opened in Georgia; country marks independence from Soviets

More than 18,000 troops and 40 jet fighters took part Friday in the biggest military parade in the past decade, meant to showcase the small, poor country's military capabilities.

Saakashvili also repeated his pledges to reunite his nation by bringing back into the fold two separatist provinces that broke away in bloody separatist wars in the early 1990s.

Saakashvili also inaugurated the Museum of Soviet Occupation in Tbilisi, which chronicles the fate of thousands of Georgians purged and killed by Soviet secret services. The president portrayed Georgia as being besieged by countries he did not name - he regularly rails against Russia, accusing it of interfering in Georgia's internal politics.

After becoming part of the Russian empire in the 18th century, Georgia gained brief independence in 1918 following the Bolshevik revolution, only to be invaded by the Russian army in 1921 and made part of the Soviet Union.

Georgia declared independence in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed, according to the AP.