MADELEINE McCann detectives are hunting Christian B's Russian pals who may be linked to the snatching of the girl.
German police have confirmed they are searching for associates of Christian B who he was speaking to around the time the tot is believed to have been abducted.
Prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters – who is leading the probe – confirmed the development to The Sun Online as they continue to treat Madeleine's disappearance as a murder probe.
He told The Sun Online: "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."
Mr Wolters declined to reveal any further details about the men.
It is understood the Russians are two brothers with links to Spain, and it is reported Christian B's ex-girlfriend, a babysitter, often talked about working for Russians.
Portuguese TV channel RTP reported she worked for Russian clients who were involved in the sale of yachts.
He also declined to confirm whether the men are being treated as suspects or witnesses as its thought they could be linked to the struggling case.
Detectives sensationally named Christian B, a German paedophile, as the prime suspect in June.
German police have said they know Madeleine is dead and have insisted that Christian B is their man.
Despite their confidence, he is yet to be charged with any crime related to the missing Brit toddler, who vanished while on holiday with her parents in Praia Da Luz in 2007.
Sources have told The Sun Online that cops need a breakthrough in the next ten weeks or the case against Christian B could “evaporate”.
The probe is now at a "make or break stage" – with the paedophile's lawyers going on the offensive and demanding they hand over evidence that Madeleine is dead.
"Detectives know the case is hanging by a thread and that the next 10 weeks between now and the end of the year are absolutely vital if they are going to be able to solve the case and find answers," said a source close to the investigation in Praia Da Luz.
Revelations about the two Russians come after Christian B's friend Manfred Seyferth revealed he was quizzed about the Russians.
Seyferth, 64, former a thief who claims he worked with the paedophile, told Portuguese television show Sexta as 9 he was grilled about the Russians last December.
He said: "Police visited me in 2019 and asked about a murder 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.
"I told them I don't know any Russians in Spain."
NO SMOKING GUN
Seyferth has previously said the paedo was known as the "The Climber" thanks to his skills of breaking into flats and hotel rooms.
And he added he believes Christian B is an “evil psychopath” who is “capable of taking a small child” and was "obsessed with small children".
Wolters has previously said on Portuguese television that Christian B is their "only" suspect in the Madeleine case.
He also said that "everything" the investigators have points to the tot being dead, despite her parents refusing to believe it until her body has been found.
Wolters also doubled down that Christian B is the one who killed Madeleine, saying there are "many pieces of the puzzle" pointing towards him.
However, the prosecutor admitted there is no "smoking gun" as the German has still not yet been charged despite being named as a suspect three months ago.
German authorities are treating Madeleine's disappearance as a murder probe, while Scotland Yard continue to treat it as a missing persons case.
He said: "The result of our investigation does not point in any way to the possibility the suspect might have kept Madeleine alive.
"We have nothing to indicate she could be alive."
Christian B was sensationally named as a suspect just after the 13th anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.
With the case reportedly on the rocks however, Christian B’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher called on prosecutors to ''show their cards'' to be ''fair'' to them and his client.
''It is no secret that the Portuguese have a different theory of what happened to the German BKA (federal police),” he said.
"The German prosecution could put an end to this theory when they finally put their cards on the table.
''This would be fair to the suspect and for the parents – both sides could judge for themselves how robust they consider the evidence to be.”
Madeleine is believed to have been snatched from the holiday apartment where she was sleeping alongside her twin siblings Sean and Amelie on May 3, 2007, in Praia du Luz.
Described as a "twisted loner", Christian B is understood to have been a kind of drifter around the resort at the time.
He was first linked to the Madeleine case after he allegedly made a drunken boast he snatched her while in a bar on the tenth anniversary of the crime.
Madeleine would have turned 17 this year, and the family have described the identification of Christian B as "potentially very significant".
German police also confirmed Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry are completely cleared in the case amid unfounded allegations.
However, cops fear many witnesses may never come forward as they are "terrified" of Christian B.
Kate and Gerry have been left exasperated by prosecutors saying their daughter is a murder victim and even though they don't have evidence to charge him.
"Until a body is found and it is proved to be Madeleine’s, Kate and Gerry are not giving up hope," a family source told The Sun.
Experts have said Christian B matches the profile of a Jimmy Savile-style “paraphiliac”, who targets victims of all ages.
His ex-lawyer Serafim Vieira has described him as having "'psychopathic traits" and admitted he could be responsible for Madeleine's abduction.
Christian B had a rundown and dilapidated shack only two miles away from the McCann's holiday let.
And he is known to have owned a mobile home he boasted could carry "drugs and children".
Mobile phone data suggests prolific sex offender Christian B was in the Portuguese resort when Madeleine vanished – and made a mysterious call just one hour before she was taken.
He is believed to have made a living selling drugs and stealing from holiday apartments.
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