TALLINN - The ever-worsening traffic jam at the Russian-Estonian border at Narva came to a head this week as drivers blocked the crossing as a show of protest against the long processing wait.
Fed up with sitting in idle trucks for several days to enter Estonia, the freight drivers left their vehicles at the roadside and blocked the path of cars with a human barricade.
"This was the spontaneous action of people who have been standing in line for days, deprived of any conveniences and unable to do their work, take shipments across the border," local union lawyer Eduard Dagel told the Baltic News Service.
The drivers were talked off the roadway after half an hour. While Estonian authorities are sympathetic to their plight, it is unlikely their protest was recognized on the Russian side of the border.
"The problem is totally on the Russian side, and we are suffering as a result," ERAA Secretary General Toivo Kuldkepp told The Baltic Times.
For weeks now, processing times on the Russian side of the checkpoint have slowed to a crawl.
There are concerns that the Narva crossing 's one of the most critical links between Russia and the European Union 's could become yet another tool used by Russia to influence its neighbors.
The problems reportedly began after President Vladimir Putin expressed concern about the veracity of checks undertaken by customs staff. In response, customs officers began methodically combing through every vehicle.
The Estonian Tax and Customs Board said it had offered to share the workload with its Russian counterparts.
"We have suggested establishing joint border crossings to increase the capacity of the existing points by twice as much, while simultaneously making use of the same resources," said Margus Noormaa, deputy director-general of enforcement and investigation.
"Still, it must be pointed out that finding a solution to the problem depends first of all on the Russian Federation," he added.