The brother of Russian spy Sergei Skripal died following an unexplained road accident, it emerged today.
Relatives confirmed Valery Skripal, 68, perished following a crash, but further details are not known, although he suffered a significant weight loss before his death.
The military officer died almost two years to the day before his 66-year-old brother Sergei and his daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned by nerve gas in a sinister incident in Salisbury on Sunday.
Valery’s widow Svetlana lives in Kazakhstan, but it is not clear where he died or where the accident was.
Valery Skripal, left, who was in the paratroop regiment, and is pictured with his wife Svetlana, right, died following an unexplained road accident, it emerged today
Valery Skripal pictured with his wife Svetlana, as he lost weight and became dramatically thinner before he died two years ago
Valery Skripal in the months leading up to his death following an ‘unexplained’ car accident, showing severe and sudden weight loss
Valery Skripal, left, on military drills in an unknown location thought to be in Russia
Viktor Skripal, soldier father of Sergei, who was found ‘poisoned’ on Sunday, and his brother Valery, a paratrooper on his knee as a baby. Valery died two years ago after sudden weight loss
‘He was ill for a while after the crash,’ said a relative.
British police are examining the hitherto unsuspicious deaths of Sergei Skripal’s wife and son in recent years, as he lies in a coma fighting for his life.
Sergei Skripal’s wife Liudmila, a housewife, died aged 59 from a disseminated endometrial carcinoma on 23 October 2012, in Britain, according to her death certificate.
Son Alexander perished reportedly from a liver disease in July last year while in Russia, although mystery remains over the exact circumstances off his death.
His body was ‘repatriated’ to England.
Valery Skripal, brother of the Russian spy found ‘poisoned’ in Salisbury, as a young man
Valery Skripal, centre, in his later life posing with some younger soldiers during military drills
Like Sergei, now 66, who was a career military spy in the feared GRU before agreeing to work for MI6, Valery served as a paratrooper in the elite Russian airborne troops.
It is unknown if Valery was also a spy in the GRU, seen as Moscow’s most secretive spy service.
Valery’s 65 year old widow Svetlana has not commented on his death other than to post this week: ‘Today is the day to remember Valery.
It adds to the picture of a proud military family suddenly cut down within the space of a few years – with the tragedy arriving on British soil as Mr Skripal and his daughter were apparently targeted in Salisbury.
An exclusive set of photographs also includes a school photograph of the spy’s daughter, Yulia, who is fighting for her life in hospital, and a poignant portrait of the spy’s father Viktor, who also served as a Russian soldier in Lithuania, sitting with Valery as a baby on his knee.
Although Sergei Skripal’s son Alexander died in St Petersburg last summer at the age of 43, his body was taken to Britain for burial in the same cemetery as his mother.
When MailOnline visited, the graves appeared well-tended and adorned with bright artificial flowers and trinkets.
Sergei Skripal’s brother Valery Skripal in military uniform examining a weapon
Valery Skripal as a young man posing in his military uniform, where he served in an elite unit
Alexander reportedly died from liver disease but mystery surrounds the circumstances of his death. The spy’s wife, Liudmila, a housewife, died aged 59 from a disseminated endometrial carcinoma on 23 October 2012, in Salisbury.
Valery’s widow, who lives in Kazakhstan, has not commented on his death other than to post yesterday: ‘Today is the day to remember Valery. It’s been two years since he passed away’. Among the comments, one of her friends desperately asked for news of ‘poisoned’ Sergei and Yulia.
St Petersburg’s respected Fontanka news agency said it could find no traces of Alexander dying in the city, adding to the mystery surrounding his demise.
It reported: ‘According to our research, Alexander Skripal did buy tickets on the Sapsan (high speed) train from Moscow, arriving on 13 July and departing on 15 July.
‘He was with a 49-year-old female called Anna. It is not clear if the couple left St Petersburg on the planned date, as the tickets were bought about one and a half months ahead of the trip.’
Valery Skripal posing in his uniform and a parachute during exercises with the paratroopers
Valery Skripal collects his parachute after a jump when serving with the paratroopers
Valery Skripal in his military uniform holding his weapon as a young man from an army family
It is understood Alexander died several days after his planned trip to St Petersburg, which was described as a holiday. The Fontanka report added: ‘As of now, we failed to find traces of him dying in St Petersburg.
‘And according to our information, Alexander had planned a trip to see his father in England in August 2017. He bought a ticket for a plane leaving early morning on August 8, 2017.’
Liudmila’s death was reported to Wiltshire Council’s register office in 2012 by her daughter Yulia, who told staff that her father was a retired local government planning officer.
The grave of Alexander Skripal, who died in mysterious circumstances in Russia
The grave of Liudmila Skripal who died of cancer in Britain in 2012 and was buried in Salisbury
A screen-grab from CCTV footage showing Sergei Skripal before he was ‘poisoned’
Sergei Skripal, left, as a younger man in uniform, and right after he was arrested in Russia
It comes as relations between the UK and the Kremlin soured after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went on the offensive in the House of Commons.
Mr Skripal was convicted in 2006 of passing state secrets to MI6 before being given refuge in the UK as part of a spy swap.
The former colonel in Russian military intelligence, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison, was among four convicts who were given pardons and one of two sent to Britain in 2010 in a deal that was said at the time to be the largest exchange since the Cold War.
He was found along with his daughter on a bench in The Maltings in Salisbury after police were called by a concerned member of the public at around 4.15pm on Sunday.