Madeleine McCann detectives are hunting Russian men who spoke with the prime suspect around the time she disappeared.
German paedophile Christian Brueckner – who was living near the Portuguese Praia da Luz resort where Madeleine vanished in 2007 – had contact with them in the spring of that year.
Earlier this month, the Olive Press claimed the two men – thought to be brothers – may have been selling yachts in the country and in Portugal.
German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the investigation, reportedly said the men could have been involved on Portuguese programme Sexta-as-9.
He has since told the Daily Star: “We know that Christian B. had contacts with Russian-speaking people in the spring of 2007.
“Because we want to interview all people who had any kind of contact with Christian B. at the time, we are also interested in these men.”
The McCann family’s spokesman and the Metropolitan Police have been approached for comment.
Manfred Seyferth, a former friend of Brueckner, earlier told the Portuguese programme that German detectives had asked him about the Russians.
He said: “Police visited me in 2019 and asked about a murder (Madeleine’s) and asked about two Russians in Spain and if I knew them.
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“They picked me up in Frankfurt and said it was a homicide case and then asked if I knew two Russians in Spain…two Russian brothers.
“I told them I don’t know any Russians in Spain.”
The 64-year-old drifter lived in a caravan next to Christian’s house in Portugal in 2007.
He told The Sun he “stole some diesel and some solar panels” – but disassociated himself from the “sick” Brueckner.
Seyferth said: “After Maddie disappeared, I didn’t see him (Christian) for a few months until a hippy festival in Orgiva (in Spain) a year later.
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“He turned up in a big American camper van and was with a young girl, she looked about 15 and he would have been double her age.
"I didn’t like it one bit so I had nothing to do with him."
Brueckner was identified as the prime suspect in the investigation back in June, and is currently imprisoned in the German city of Kiel on drug offences.
He was also sentenced to seven years forraping a 72-year-old American tourist in Portugal in 2005 .
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