Diplomats tell The Associated Press that Russia's government lodged a formal complaint last month with the United Nations over a top U.N. official's condemnations of Donald Trump and some European politicians.

The intervention underscores the unusual links between the Kremlin and the Republican presidential nominee.

There is no evidence Trump sought Russia's assistance, or was even aware of the criticism by Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

But three diplomats say the criticism prompted Vitaly Churkin, Russia's U.N. ambassador, to issue a verbal "demarche" to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a private meeting on Sept. 13.

The diplomats weren't authorized to speak publicly about the matter and demanded anonymity, fearing possible diplomatic repercussions from Russia, a powerful, permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.