Fortunately for Ahmed Dogan, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the weapon misfired giving him time to react and hit the would-be assassin’s hand out of the way.
Before he could attempt a second shot the unidentified suspect was tackled to the ground by security guards and delegates attending the conference in Sofia.
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Bulgarian politician Ahmed Dogan looks at the gunman as he holds a gun at his head and misfires.
A 25-year-old man, pictured with a bloodied face after being tackled by security officials, was arrested at the scene.
Two men stand over the gun that was used in the apparent assassination attempt.
Television footage showed the man jumping out of the audience and interrupting a speech by 58-year-old Dogan, who has led the party for almost a quarter of a century.
In a split second, he raises the gun to Mr Dogan’s head but it appeared to misfire.
The politician then knocked the gun away and fell to the floor as he attempted to flee.
Security guards and delegates rushed onto the stage where they wrestled the attacker to the ground.
A separate group surrounded a shocked Mr Dogan in a protective shield.
Politicians then appeared from the audience and begin rained blows on the suspect as he was pinned to the ground.
He was later pictured being taken away by police bloodied and bruised.
‘Ahmed Dogan is in good health. Everything is under control,’ Movement for Rights and Freedoms official Ceyhan Ibryamov told journalists.
The unnamed man clearly had a security pass for the Movement for Rights and Freedom party’s annual conference.
Mr Dogan reaches out to try and stop the gunman from targeting him during the assassination attempt.
Mr Dogan is left to fend for himself on the stage after the gunman approached at the conference centre in Sofia.
Police said they arrested a 25-year-old man from the Black Sea town of Burgas who was also carrying two knives.
The liberal MRF party represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims who make up about 12 per cent of Bulgaria’s 7.3 million-strong population.
Dogan is seen as one of Balkan country’s most influential political figures.
Two years ago he was acquitted after a high-profile corruption trial into payments he received as a consultant for a hydro power project.
The MRF was a junior partner in the previous Socialist-led cabinet before switching to the opposition following the 2009 elections.
In 1996, former Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov was found shot dead near his home in Sofia, though attacks on politicians are rare.
The unidentified would-be assassin is tackled to the ground by party members and security people.
The scene became frantic as more people went over to help apprehend the man.
The man is bundled across the foyer of the National Palace of Culture in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia.