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He is a graduate of the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy. As an army officer, he served in Tambov, Moscow, and Russia's far east and fought in Afghanistan. Tsvetkov attained the rank of lieutenant colonel, before he retired, founding the brokerage firm Brokinvest. His obscure company became the investment and financial adviser to Lukoil (then a state-controlled concern) by offering a co-ownership to its president Vagit Alekperov, and profited immensely from the voucher privatization scheme of Russia's state-owned companies in the mid-1990s.
- Kroll, Luisa; Allison Fass (9 March 2006). "#109 Nikolai Tsvetkov". The World's Billionaires. Forbes. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
- Kroll, Luisa; Allison Fass (8 March 2007). "#83 Nikolai Tsvetkov". The World's Billionaires. Forbes. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
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