The results of a well-liked Russian TV expertise present – The Voice Children – has been cancelled after hundreds of fraudulent votes have been discovered to have handed victory to a millionaire’s younger daughter.
There have been complaints after singer Mikella Abramova, aged 10, received with 56.5% of the phone-in vote.
She is the daughter of pop singer Alsou and rich businessman Yan Abramov.
State-owned Channel One TV says it can make its voting system safer, and the kids will seem in a particular present.
A cyber safety agency, Group-IB, was employed to look at the vote for Mikella Abramova, after the ultimate of The Voice Children, which is in its sixth season on Russian TV.
“The interim outcomes of the test verify that there was exterior affect on the voting, which affected the end result,” a Channel One assertion mentioned (in Russian).
The Voice Children is a worldwide franchise, a spin-off from the vastly standard expertise present The Voice.
Channel One mentioned the voting rip-off on 26 April “should be the primary and final time that anybody tries to manage the viewers’s selection”.
Nonetheless, it added: “Youngsters shouldn’t take the blame for actions carried out by anyone else. Every participant turns into a member of the massive Voice household.” It stays unclear who was behind the rip-off.
‘Bots have been used’
Based on investigators, greater than eight,000 textual content messages have been despatched from about 300 cellphone numbers through the vote.
A Group-IB assertion mentioned (in Russian) that sequential cellphone numbers had been used to ship automated votes – in different phrases, “bots have been used on this case”.
“Greater than 30,000 votes got here in for one contestant from these cellphone numbers,” Group-IB mentioned. Rival singers received not more than three,000 votes every, Russia’s Kommersant each day reported.
Bots are automated programmes which might perform a command hundreds of occasions.
‘They listened to the folks’
The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford in Moscow writes:
There was such a fuss over the winner of The Voice Children, Channel One was compelled to behave.
Clearly that is only a TV present. However to some it displays a wider, disagreeable actuality: utilizing cash and standing to sway a vote. Individuals have shrugged that off for years in politics. However the concept that soiled practices tainted a youngsters’s expertise contest has angered them.
Mikella wasn’t terrible. However the scale of her victory was distinctly fishy. Her pop-star mum, Alsou, had known as brazenly for assist: she has greater than two million Instagram followers.
Experiences of manufacturing unit employees being paid to vote added to the sense of scandal. Now that the result is been annulled, viewers have welcomed a “triumph for justice”.
“It is a shock for our nation, and a pleasant one, that they listened to the folks,” one lady tweeted.
One other consumer identified a “magic coincidence”. Simply because the skulduggery within the TV ballot was revealed, President Vladimir Putin known as for an additional scandal – protests in Yekaterinburg over plans to construct a church – to be resolved. How? By means of a vote.
Group-IB is an official associate of Interpol and Europol. Responding to the complaints, Channel One requested Group-IB to examine its voting expertise, which was managed by an organization known as SMS-servisy.
A full report on the rip-off is to be issued later this month, Channel One says.
Channel One mentioned “the aim of this audit was to not put the blame on anybody however to re-evaluate the info obtained through the voting”.
The Voice Children “is all about giving a constructive expertise to every participant”, the assertion mentioned.
Channel One plans to have fun “all the children’ exceptional expertise” with a particular one-off present on 24 Could, “during which all of the season finalists and the semi-finalists will carry out”, it mentioned.
A brand new voting mechanism can be in place earlier than the following season of the expertise present, the assertion added.