Zubkov Attacks Border Corruption

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov on Tuesday blamed "blatant" corruption for border gridlock at the country's customs posts.

"Our Western colleagues take six minutes per car, while we take six hours at the same checkpoints. What's that? Bribes, corruption -- shameless and blatant," Zubkov said in comments broadcast by state television.

The Federal Customs Service declined to comment.

The European Union, Russia's biggest trade partner, has urged the government to reduce kilometers-long lines of trucks at the Russian border. Imports rose 35 percent and retail sales increased by a record 16.7 percent in 2007.

Fighting corruption and upgrading the nation's strained, aging infrastructure, including ports and roads, are among the government's priorities, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said this month.