By politics.co.uk staff
A Bulgarian party leader is recovering after facing every politician's worst nightmare: a man pointing a gun to his head from point blank range.
Ahmed Dogan, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, was addressing a party conference in Sofia when a 25-year-old man wearing a black leather coat broke through security and rushed on to the stage.
The assailant, Oktai Enimehmedov, attempted to pull the trigger twice before Dogan pushed him away.
He was unable to access two knives later found on his person before being wrestled to the ground. Security officials faced a largely unsuccessful struggle to prevent members of the audience from punching and stamping on the apparent assassin.
Dogan was not hurt from the weapon, which – despite initial reports – turned out to be a non-lethal gas pistol which misfired. Experts said it was potentially fatal when fired from such extreme short range, however. The gun misfired.
It remains unclear how the weapon was smuggled through security, or what the motives of the 25-year-old are. He was shown to have had a criminal record for hooliganism and drugs.
The incident has shocked politicians in Bulgaria, which has escaped the worst upheavals of ethnic tensions in the Balkan regions in recent years.
Bulgarian president Rosen Plevneliev said the incident was "unacceptable in a democratic state" and said his country's society was traditionally known for "tolerance, mutual acceptance and respect".
Dogan later appeared back on stage to confirm his previously expected resignation from the party leadership, telling delegates: "This time my decision is categorical!"