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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Customs Crackdown Creates Long Lines at Estonia Border

ST. PETERSBURG -- Recent changes in Russian customs procedures have produced massive backlogs of trucks trying to cross the country's border with Estonia.

Lines as long as 14 kilometers were reported at the Luhamaa border crossing on Sunday. The Estonian newspaper Postimees reported that local customs officials closed one of the roads leading to the main motorway as a result of the traffic jam at the Russian checkpoint.

In October, the northwest customs administration issued orders requiring customs officials to perform 100 percent cargo inspections of trucks carrying any of a number of specified goods, including household appliances, furniture and coffee. The instructions were issued as a result of an investigation carried out by the State Customs Committee that determined that many goods were being imported into Russia under false manifests in order to avoid customs duties.

"Customs has recently discovered that trucks from Lithuania import goods with false declarations. That is why it was decided to search all trucks carrying, for instance, consumer goods," said Yevgeny Vensko, a spokesman for the northwest customs administration.

"This is not the truck drivers' fault, but that of those in Russia who order the goods." said Valeriya Glebovnya, a representative of the Lithuanian Truckers' Association. "The Russian companies are responsible for the documentation."

The same customs instructions created long lines at checkpoints on the Russian-Finnish border last month and also jammed St. Petersburg's cargo port.

According to the Estonian National Customs Board, only 15 of the 82 trucks that started the day waiting at the Estonian side of the border near Luhamaa were able to clear customs and enter Russia on Sunday. Glebovnya said the waiting time for truck drivers had increased from five hours to five days this week.