Georgian Pentecostals harassed and beaten: Pastor

Tbilisi, Georgia - Members of the Pentecostal religious community in the former Soviet republic of Georgia have been harassed and beaten this month, the group's leader said.

Pastor Nikolai Kalutsky said that extremists from the country's dominant Orthodox Christian faith had tried to block Pentecostals from attending services last Friday and Saturday at his home, which serves as the house of worship for members of the community.

A few Pentecostals were beaten outside a subway station after a service last Saturday, he said.

Attacks on evangelical groups have been common for years in Georgia, but have died down since the arrest last year of a defrocked Georgian Orthodox priest known for instigating the violence.

The defrocked priest, Vasily Mkalavishvili, was sentenced last February to six years in prison, a decision praised by human rights groups that had long called for the government to do more to halt attacks on religious minorities.