Yulia Skripal was poisoned with a nerve agent just days after gaining access to a £150,000 ‘secret bank account’ with proceeds from a house sale in Britain, it emerged today.
The money had belonged to her brother Alexander who died in mysterious circumstances in St Petersburg last year.
She had been given power of attorney over the cash in late February from her father, double agent Sergei Skripal, poisoned by nerve agent Novichok alongside her on March 4 in Salisbury.
The cash – now in an unknown Russian bank – was from the sale of the house he had shared in Britain with his ex-wife, Natalia, like Yulia, 33, the daughter of a GRU military intelligence colonel
Natalia – now married to a tennis coach from Wales – sold the house, and paid half the sum to her ex-husband.
The ‘secret bank account’ was disclosed by Sergei’s niece Viktoria Skripal, 45, who aims this week to travel to meet Yulia in hospital in Salisbury.
The British authorities are preparing to grant her a visa so that she can become the first family member to meet Yulia, and also see her uncle Sergei, who remains in a coma.
Of Yulia’s current condition, she said: ‘The only thing I discovered from our (Russian) diplomats is that Yulia has opened her eyes, can eat, drink and has even said a few words.’
She and other family members have not yet spoken to her by phone or social media.
On the money she said: ‘Nobody knows this yet.
‘At the end of February, Yulia received a general power of attorney from her father Sergei in order to take ownership of a secret bank account that belonged to her late brother Alexander.
‘After his divorce, his wife Natalia paid him $200,000 USD, and he kept this money. It is in a Russian bank now.’
Viktoria – from Yaroslavl – has repeated concerns she raised last month over Yulia’s mysterious unnamed boyfriend, who she had intended to wed.
‘I think he is a strange man,’ she said.
‘We visited Yulia once in 2013. She was living with him in her father’s apartment in (Moscow) then.
‘And he did not even come out of the room to say ‘Hello’. This man is like a phantom.’
When Yulia was poisoned ‘he didn’t even say ‘miaow’.’
There is speculation that his identity is being concealed for unknown reasons by the Russian media.
Newspapers in Russia have indicated that the boyfriend and his mother work for a company with close links to the Russian secret services.
Viktoria earlier claimed that her fiance’s mother was against a marriage to the daughter of a Russian ‘traitor’.
Neither the boyfriend nor his mother have spoken on the poisoning scandal.
A High Court judge indicated last month that Yulia’s boyfriend had not been in contact with the Salisbury hospital.
Natalia, now 45, is married to Welshman Wyn Lewis, a tennis coach in Cyprus.
She was devastated by her ex-husband’s ‘premature’ death six years after they had split.
Her father – GRU colonel Gennady Grishchenko – was 66 year old Skripal’s best friend before he was exposed as a ‘traitor’ secretly spying for MI6.
After this, Grishchenko severed all contact with him, but did not stop his daughter’s relationship with Skripal’s son.
In a deeply emotional social media message on 43 year old Alexander’s sudden death, she posted on 25 July last year in English:
‘I don’t like sharing my private life, but today I want to ask all my friends about something…
‘Tomorrow will be nine (9) days since a man, who was very close to me, has died. He died suddenly and very prematurely.
‘He was my first big love.
‘I was proudly carrying his surname.
‘Destiny moved us to different continents, hard to say now whether it was for right or wrong.
‘Would he have gone that early if we were to still be together, or was everything preset in advance and my destiny was simply kind to me and took me away from becoming a widow aged 44?
‘I don’t know… But he will forever stay in my heart as a memory of, if not my adolescence, certainly my youth.
‘A very wise friend told me that people who left us don’t like us crying for them.
‘They need our prayers. So if this is not difficult for you, please can you go to a church tomorrow and light up a candle for his soul to find peace.
‘Forgive me for everything Sasha. ‘Rest in peace.’
It is unclear what she meant by ‘forgive me’.
Natalia now lives with her second husband, 12 years her junior, a tennis coach in Cyprus and former youth star.
The couple who wed in 2011 have a young child.
It is not know where in Britain she lived with Alexander.
Reports say he died of liver problems last year.