MOSCOW (AP) _ A government investigation of Moscow's taxi and minibus service shows drivers pocket millions of rubles in fares each year to feed a bribery scheme that ranges from car washers to transport officials, an authoritative newspaper reported Sunday.

Sovietskaya Rossiya, an official publication of the government and Communist Party, said the investigation by the capital's Department for the Fight Against Theft of State Property and Speculation disclosed that on just two minibus routes about 3.5 million rubles ($4.9 million) was lost to corruption in the past two years.

The newspaper gave no total of income lost, but said the problem in the transport industry was well-organized and widespread. It estimated that each driver brings in 30 to 100 rubles ($42 to $140) per shift ''na levo'' - on the side, Sovietskaya Rossiya said.

Cab drivers' state salaries begin at about 130 rubles ($182) per month, below the national average of 184 rubles ($258) for factory workers.

''Sometimes it was necessary either to steal or go to work somewhere else, because such a notion as honest work here was fully discredited,'' the newspaper said.

The report appears to underscore a new crackdown on corruption announced May 28. The government decrees, which take effect July 1, include imposition of the death penalty for officials found to be particularly flagrant about taking bribes.

Sovietskaya Rossiya mentioned about 20 transport officials by name and said ''some of these thieves and bribe-takers are now isolated from society, sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison with confiscation of property and reimbursement ordered.''

The article said corruption is especially prevalent in operation of Moscow's fixed-route taxis - small vans that link major transport stations with distant factories, suburbs, parks and sports facilities.

Passengers are supposed to drop 15 kopeks (21 cents) into a box and take a ticket, but the drivers pocket about two-thirds of the fares, the newspaper indicated.

The small vans, which accommodate about 10 people comfortably but often are overcrowded, are rarely stopped by inspectors who monitor the honor system of fare payment. Taxi station bookkeepers check only that the receipts turned in match the number of tickets sold.

Everyone working in the taxi and minibus services gets a cut, the newspaper said. Workers paid by the state to operate carwash equipment demand an additional 20 kopeks (28 cents) from each driver, tossing the coins into a bucket of water which at the end of the day holds about 50 rubles ($70), the newspaper said.

Cashiers get the same tip for accepting the day's receipts, as does the gatekeeper who issues daily routes to the drivers.

Drivers have to pay a mechanic one ruble ($1.40) for declaring his vehicle fit for the road, whether the car is actually inspected or not, the newspaper said.

Senior officials get larger bribes, with brigade leaders getting 600 to 800 rubles ($840 to $1,120) in payoffs each month. Moscow city transport officials take in thousands, the report said.

''They know in the taxi station management that the driver has stolen money, so those who are higher up make them share it,'' the newspaper said.

The article admonished citizens who tip or bribe drivers instead of paying the standard fare. Muscovites have long complained, however, that bribery is often the only way to secure a cab ride late at night, at rush hours or in bad weather.

The article said targets for the number of passengers transported per driver each shift is too low, allowing the cabbies to fulfill their plans too easily.

''It is a bitter fact, but many collectives of drivers have degenerated,'' the newspaper said. ''They have been transformed into groups of conspirators united by this easy money.''

The newspaper did not indicate whether new measures are planned to combat the corruption.