A 10-year-old girl's victory in a Russian TV talent show has been invalidated after the program discovered that the competition was overwhelmed with thousands of fraudulent votes.
The news comes after singer Mikella Abramova won "The Voice Kids" with just over 56 percent of the phone-in vote, according to BBC. The news network noted that her first-place finish sparked complaints, leading the cyber security firm, Group-IB, to be hired to examine the votes Abramova received.
Abramova is the daughter of pop singer Alsou and wealthy businessman Yan Abramov, according to BBC.
"Intermediate test results confirm that an external impact was made on the vote, which affected the outcome of the show," the Russian state-owned Channel One said in a statement, according to a Russian translation.
The station said it would cancel the results of the initial competition, which is in its sixth season, in light of the discovery.
"Children should not take the blame for actions carried out by somebody else. Each participant becomes a member of the big Voice family," Channel One added.
It remains unclear who was responsible for the fraudulent vote that led to Abramova's victory.
Group-IB said in a statement that about 300 phone numbers sent more than 8,000 text messages during the vote. BBC noted that the sequential phone numbers were used to send automated votes, ultimately totaling more than 30,000 responses.
BBC, citing Russia's Kommersant daily, reported that other contestants received no more than 3,000 votes.
Channel One said it is planning a special program "in which all the season finalists and the semi-finalists will perform" in response.