By Olive Press Editor Jon Clarke

A PAIR of Russian expats based in Spain have been linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The two men – believed to be brothers – may have been involved in the buying and selling of yachts both in Portugal and Spain at the time of Maddie’s disappearance.

According to an investigator for Portuguese national TV, German police are ‘looking for these Russians’.

Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the investigation for Germany’s BKA, confirmed to RTP programme Sexta-as-9 that they may have been involved in the snatch of the British toddler from the resort of Praia da Luz, on the Algarve in 2007.

FRIEND: Manfred Seyferth

The sensational claim comes after a former friend of key suspect Christian Brueckner revealed he had been grilled about the Russian pair at the end of last year.

The German, Manfred Seyferth, told the programme detectives from the BKA had brought up the pair in relation to a ‘murder case’.

“Police visited me in 2019 and asked about a murder (Madeleine’s) and asked about two Russians in Spain and if I knew them.

“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,” he said. “I told them I don’t know any Russians in Spain.”

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PRIME SUSPECT: Christian Brueckner allegedly confessed to involvement in Maddie disappearance in 2008

The Olive Press can reveal that the interview came in December after Seyferth had testified against Brueckner at the rape trial of American pensioner Diana Menkes.

The German, who saw a series of videos of Brueckner raping and torturing women, helped to convict Brueckner of the attack on the 72-year-old, in Praia da Luz, in 2005.

He told the court in Braunschweig, Germany, how both videos – one the rape of an older woman (although not of Menkes) and one of a 15-year-old tied to a post – were kept at his Portugal home.

He had found them after he and a friend, Helge Busching, had been asked to clear out Brueckner’s rented home in Praia da Luz, while he was locked up in prison in 2006 for petrol theft.

The Russian connection has intensified after it was revealed that Brueckner’s girlfriend at the time, Nicole Fehlinger, mixed with a series of Russians while working at a casino on the Algarve.

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PICTURED: Nicole was more than friends with Brueckner and is accused of being an accomplice in a spate of burglaries (CREDIT: Sexta 9)

A Portuguese woman, who employed her as a babysitter, told the RTP programme she often talked about Russians as being her best clients.

She said they were mostly involved in the yacht industry in the area adding that Fehlinger worked as a dancer at the casino in Vilamoura and was also involved in ‘photoshoots’.

The Olive Press first revealed in June how Fehlinger ran an operation for troubled teenagers on the Algarve from her home in Foral, 40 minutes inland from Praia da Luz.

We revealed how Christian Brueckner had been a regular visitor to her rented home and how she had been paid thousands a month for looking after the difficult German teenagers.

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‘HE WAS HERE’: Brueckner was regularly spotted parking up outside the home the OP found in Foral, locals claim (COPYRIGHT: Olive Press)

We also reported how Fehlinger had called in police when one girl ran away for two weeks and was eventually brought back by Brueckner, who at the time was armed with a gun.

Intriguingly, in police documents seen by the Olive Press, the 15-year-old had been socialising with Russians at their local restaurant O Foral, in the village, the day she vanished. 

One of them was called ‘Ivan’ and they apparently lived on the Algarve at the time.

Despite police reports being made about the disappearance, it is not believed detectives ever located or interviewed the Russians.

Meanwhile, a dangerous British paedophile also linked to the case claimed on his deathbed she had been taken to Russia.

Long time suspect Raymond Hewlett – who was imprisoned three times in the UK for child sex offences – allegedly told police in 2009 that he had not only seen Maddie close up twice, but that she was ‘taken by Russians’.

The former soldier, who was married to a German and lived between Aachen and the Algarve, died of throat cancer before police could properly interrogate him.

Hewlett was said to be an hour’s drive from Praia da Luz in May 2007, living on a campsite with his wife and six children in a blue Dodge truck. 

Brueckner was also living in his VW campervan at the time Maddie went missing, frequently moving up and down the coast staying at different camping spots.

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