Washington, Feb 22 : Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders has condemned Russia for its reported attempts to help his campaign, teeling it to "stay out of American elections", the media reported on Saturday.

"Let's be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election," the BBC quoted Sanders as saying while speaking in Bakersfield, California, on Friday.

The Vermont Senator said that US officials had informed him last month about Russian efforts to aid his campaign, but adding that it was not clear how Moscow intended to interfere.

The veteran politician also denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin as an "autocratic thug" whose government has "used internet propaganda to sow division in our country".

The 78-year-old Senator's remarks came after The Washington Post said earlier on Friday that US President Donald Trump and other American lawmakers had been informed of reported Russian efforts to assist Sanders.

Senior intelligence officials also believe Russia has been seeking to interfere in November's election with a view to helping President Trump win.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee were told that Russia favoured Trump at a closed-door briefing on February 13, the BBC said in its report.

Speaking at a Nevada campaign rally on Friday, Trump however, suggested that the Russian meddling briefing was a "rumour" started by the Democrats.

"I see these phonies, the do-nothing Democrats, they said today that Putin wants to be sure that Trump gets elected. Here we go again," Trump said.

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