Russian Viewers Accuse TV Producers of Rigging Vote for 'The Voice Kids' Contest
Controversy has stirred in Russia over the outcome of this season's local version of the TV singing contest The Voice Kids as viewers accused organizers of the show of rigging the audience vote.
In the wake of the broadcast of the season's finale this past weekend, thousands of viewers, supported by some prominent TV personalities demanded the re-calculation of the vote on the social media.
Users claimed that the vote in the children's singing contest was falsified in favor of the winner, Mikella Abramova, a daughter of pop diva Alsou and granddaughter of multimillionaire Ralif Safin.
The viewers' concerns were shared by some TV personalities, including those involved with the show. Aglaya Shilovskaya, the contest's co-host, said on her Instagram account that Abramova's victory "came as absolute shock to the management of Channel One and the jury."
Meanwhile, outspoken actor Stanislav Sadalsky sarcastically said on his Instagram account: "Who could doubt that [Abramova] would win?"
The winner of the show, aired by the country's largest TV network, Channel One, is determined by viewers' votes cast over phone calls and text messages. The victory comes with a check for 1 million rubles ($15,400) and an opportunity to record a track at a professional studio.
The audience vote was counted by a St. Petersburg based company called SMS Services. According to the data the company provided, Abramova collected 56.5 percent of the vote, while the two other finalists, Yerzhan Maksim and Valery Kuzakov, received 27.9 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively.
What made observers suspicious was the huge difference in the number of votes collected by the winner and the other finalists, which has never been the case since the show premiered five years ago.
On Monday, the broadcaster announced that it will conduct an investigation into the vote counting process and charged the tech security company Group-IB, a local partner of Interpol, with the task.
It's not yet clear how long the investigation might take.
Based on the Dutch TV format The Voice Kids of Holland, The Voice Kids has aired in Russia since February 2014 and is one of the most popular shows on free-to-air television.