"I didn't go with my family. I left alone. I'm not naming the country yet because I'm with a friend and don't want to cause her any problems. Violent groups may target me here too," said civil activist Nata Peradze, who left Georgia on May 18. She is planning to request asylum in one of the EU member states. Under the rule of Georgian Dream, Nata Peradze was arrested 15 times under administrative procedures and was even imprisoned for pouring paint on an icon depicting Stalin. While in Georgia, she and his family were constantly targeted by pro-Russian and violent groups encouraged by the government. Her car was repeatedly damaged, she was attacked, and she received death threats. The Talga movement, founded by Nata Peradze, was actively involved in the protest against the Russian Law On Agents. After that, she was accused of being the organizer of an attempt to overthrow the state government.

"Recently, POSTV, a government-controlled propaganda and hate-speech channel, put out a 'film' featuring me, in which I am portrayed as one of the leaders of the youth protest. There were very serious accusations that I am the head of the biggest group. I expected this. I have two children, both in their 20s. I didn't want to leave the country.

On the 18th, I received a call from the prosecutor's office instructing me to appear at 6 pm. They did not specify in what capacity I should arrive. I told them that I needed to contact my lawyer first and then I would inform them when I would be able to come. I understood what kind of call it was. I realized it was going to change my life.

I called the lawyer. After discussing with the prosecutor's office, he informed me that we would only find out the charges once we arrived at the location. The lawyer mentioned that if I went to the prosecutor's office, I might be asked to sign a letter agreeing not to leave the country and to become one of the accused. In such an absurd system, I felt compelled to confront this regime because we lack an independent judiciary. Recently, I was detained for 5 days, held in solitary confinement, and it was extremely harsh, abusive, and inhumane. I couldn't bear it any longer, especially in front of my two elderly relatives and my two children, who are deeply distressed because of my activism... I felt obligated to leave, and I do not see it as a defeat. What good would it do me to go to prison? None. I will continue the fight from here.

- Nata, what is the prosecutor's complaint against you? There are reports stating that you are being accused of attempting a coup d'état.

This is an assumption, but it is based on reasonable expectations. Due to health problems, I couldn't attend rallies anymore, so I organized everything from home. What Prime Minister Kobakhidze mentioned about the Talga movement, and the same in the video of POSTV, the coup preparations were always in the background. I was physically unable to be there; I went a few times and remained calm. That's why the message from Georgian Dream came out that I would be accused of being an organizer, with the words “preparing a coup d'état' mentioned."

- Didn't the prosecutor's office mention Article 317 of the Criminal Code, which pertains to calling for the change of the constitutional order by violence or the overthrow of the state government?

The prosecutor's office told us that I will come and find out the details on the spot.

- How safe are your family members here?

Currently, my children are not in Georgia. Independently of me, one recently succeeded in a large competition, won a scholarship, and is studying at one of the European universities. The second child also studied in a European school and continues their education. The TV company Imedi published an article titled "Exclusive: Nata Peradze kept her children away from rallies in Europe," which is absurd. Both children are receiving European education. My stepfather and a close elderly woman with no one else but me have stayed in Georgia.

- What are you planning to do? Will you ask for asylum in the country where you are, or do you have other plans?

I am currently at the stage of figuring out what I can do and what status I can obtain. At this point, I have the right to stay here legally for 90 days. My remote work does not fall under this, as I worked as a gardener on site and physically visited locations with my team. European and Western non-governmental organizations have contacted me again, and I am awaiting their response. I need a status to stay here, as in Georgia, there is the threat of imprisonment under Georgian Dream. Once this threat is removed, I never wanted and still don't want to live abroad. I find myself in a wonderful place, in a wonderful country, but I long for my home and have always wanted it.

- Will the Talga movement, which you led, continue its activities, even if it is also in danger?

I am one of the founders. We were a team that did things together, made decisions together. We even announced that we temporarily stopped working because we had to switch to a safe mode. Those who stayed in Tbilisi will make decisions because I am in a safe place, and if they are threatened by something, it is up to them. However, on the contrary, they have a great attitude and are continuing everything. I will definitely continue to fight the hard regime, online.

- To what extent is this decision of yours the result of the actions that took place against you before? I mean your arrest for throwing paint on a statue of Stalin, the repeated visits of pro-Russian violent groups to your home, threats, damage to property, and previous arrests. How many times have you been targeted during the period of Georgian Dream's governance?

Action of violent groups near Nata Feradze's house, January 10, 2024 / Mariam Nikuradze's photo

I have been detained at least 15 times, probably since 2012. Most of the time, they released me with just a signature. discriminately, they would often allow women to leave while boys were left behind. In principle, I am not part of a non-governmental organization either. Our movements, Guerrilla Gardening and Talga, are not registered. We do not receive any funding either; sometimes, we would publish account numbers if we had any funds for expenses. Nobody has ever received a salary, not even a single penny.

Ideologically motivated movements are among the most dangerous for the Georgian Dream. That's why the struggle is so intense.

Two years ago, when my car was impounded and I complained, the police came, cordoned off the area, took recordings from the video surveillance system, reviewed them, and fined the offenders. Now, after running afoul of the Russian law, despite the hacking of my entire house, painting of the car, and the extensive damage, the police did not even take the video footage when I provided it myself, clearly showing the perpetrators' faces. It's as if the law told me to do whatever I want.

First of all, I don't want anyone to see this as running away. This is a tactical retreat. The fight continues. I am going through a difficult phase in my life. I left not only the elderly and children, my country, plants, and animals. It's hard to start everything from scratch at this age, but I will definitely start over and perhaps do even better from a safe country."

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