Human rights in Russia should be on the agenda at this weekend’s EU/Russia summit in Nice, according to gay activists in Moscow.

The organisers of the city’s banned Pride marches have written to French President Nicloas Sarkozy to ask that that the European Union raise the human rights issue in Russia with President Dmitry Medvedev during the summit, which begins today.

France holds the rotating EU Presidency until December 31st.

The proposed EU-Russia basic treaty, which is set to replace the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, is expected to be up for discussion at the meeting.

“Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association is breached every day by Russian authorities,” read the letter from the gay activists to President Sarkozy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

“Russian gays have no other rights than silence. We refuse this silence.”

The activists pointed out that they have been denied permission to conduct a gay Pride march, demanding equal rights for sexual minorities, every year since May 2006.

“The mayor of Moscow considers such marches as Satanic,” says the letter.

“We demand you to remind Russian authorities that EU should ask all its partners to respect essential human rights.”

By the end of the year, activists will have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg all of the 164 banned gay marches that they attempted to organise in Russia over the last three years.