Volen Siderov, leader of Bulgaria’s far-right Ataka party, was involved in a late-night fracas in central Sofia on October 25 after he and party cohorts entered the building of the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts.
There were chaotic scenes as Siderov confronted students inside the building and as people from the art world hurried to the scene, which also was attended by a number of police, Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova, Interior Minister chief secretary Georgi Kostov and the head of the Sofia police.
Siderov was taken from the scene surrounded by police. There was blood and bruising on his cheek.
It was not immediately clear who had injured Siderov. Video footage showed a man in dark clothing and a dark cap reaching through a group of police who were surrounding Siderov to hit him. After the blow, the man was held by two police.
The episode is the latest in a succession recently in which Siderov has been involved in confrontations in the area, first at a 24-hour liquor store, later at the theatre academy. While as a member of Parliament he has immunity from prosecution, Siderov is the subject of a number of requests by prosecutors for this immunity to be lifted so that he can face charges of hooliganism.
The October 25 scenes inside and outside the theatre academy were a melee as police pushed back journalists and students. Earlier, live television showed Siderov and fellow Ataka members shouting aggressively at academy leadership who had come to the scene.
While Siderov was still inside the building, students gathered outside chanting for him to be evicted.
The latest Siderov drama happened in the hours after the end of voting and the emergence of the first exit polls in Bulgaria’s October 25 municipal elections. These showed, nationally, Siderov’s Ataka getting barely a three per cent share of the national vote.
Buchvarova declined to answer reporters’ questions whether Siderov had been arrested or simply escorted from the scene to answer questions.