http://www.digitaljournal.com/business/business/thousands-protest-against-armenia-s-new-pension-plan/article/377766

Thousands protest against Armenia's new pension plan

Posted Mar 22, 2014 by AFP
Some 6,000 protesters took to the streets of Armenia's capital on Saturday in the latest demonstration against a compulsory pension scheme.
Opposition activists wave Armenian flags as they take part in a protest in central Yerevan on March ...
Opposition activists wave Armenian flags as they take part in a protest in central Yerevan on March 1, 2014 to commemorate the events of March 2008, when ten people died in violent post-election unrest
Karen Minasyan, AFP/File

Some 6,000 protesters took to the streets of Armenia's capital on Saturday in the latest demonstration against a compulsory pension scheme.

The plan, which took effect at the start of the year, forces all people born after 1974 to pay five percent of their wages into private pension funds.

"We are against this thievery which the government is calling reform," David Manukyan told AFP at the rally in central Yerevan.

"We won't allow them to steal from the citizens of this country," he said.

The scheme has drawn ire from across society against the government of President Serzh Sarkisian.

Officials have offered to meet with protesters to discuss their complaints. A challenge to the pension plan is currently being considered by the country's constitutional court.

But protesters said they are concerned about how the pension scheme will be managed.

"There is no guarantee that in 40 years we'll receive our money," said activist Hayk Hakobyan.

"How will we be able to hold those in office now to account to get our money back," he said.

A landlocked country of 3.2 million, Armenia was badly affected by the global downturn and unemployment is a major issue.

The former Soviet state is economically isolated with its borders to Turkey and Azerbaijan both blocked due to ongoing international disputes.