Some 6,000 opposition activists protested in Yerevan on Saturday against a controversial new obligatory pension scheme. The new plan, which took effect on January 1, essentially forces all people born after 1974 to pay five percent of their wages into private pension funds. "A government racket has come into force that allows the authorities to put their hands into people's pockets," said Naira Zohrabyan, a lawmaker of the opposition Prosperous Armenia party. Unemployment is a major concern in the ex-Soviet state, and protesters said the new law may force them to look for work abroad. "People's wages are their own private property and no one has the right to tell them what to do with them," computer programmer Artur Garibyan told AFP at the rally in central Yerevan. "This law should not be obligatory," said Garibyan, 34. The controversial new pension scheme has drawn ire from across society against the government of President Serzh Sarkisian. A landlocked country of 3.2 million that was badly affected by the global downturn, Armenia is economically isolated because its borders with two neighbours Turkey and Azerbaijan have long been closed owing to political disputes. Nevertheless officials have forecast that the country's gross domestic product will grow by 5.2 percent this year. On the downside, inflation is projected at about 4.0 percent.