Apparently he fled to France after senior “systemic liberal” sources in the government told him he was not safe staying in Russia. So he played it safe.
The only problem, at least with the latter explanation? Sergey Guriev himself denies it is so, according to Ben Aris at the FT:
The whole episode is embarrassing for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been calling for improvements to Russia’s investment climate. According to Guriev, Putin has reassured him that he will come to no harm, but clearly Guriev was not confident that even Putin could protect him. …
While Guriev has been outspoken on economic issues and warned that the current policies will lead to economic stagnation, he is usually a lot more circumspect when it comes to politics. He was again on Friday when asked who was to blame for the attack.
“I have no complaints about either Vladimir Putin or Dmitry Medvedev. I heard them say that nothing is threatening me and that they will not interfere in the work of the investigative committee. I respect such an approach and believe that it is wrong to ask the president of the country to interfere on each occasion,” Guriyev told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
So unless you believe Ben Aris to be making this up, or consider that Guriev is trying to inveigle himself back into favor (“No hard feelings! It was all just a misunderstanding”), his words have to be taken at face value.
That leaves us with over-enthusiastic investigators who went way beyond the remit of legal acceptability – at least if Guriev’s version of his interactions with them (e.g. the demand to hand over the last 5 years of his emails, etc.) are likewise correct. Investigators whom Bastrykin or Putin are, for whatever reason, either won’t, can’t, or just haven’t yet reined back in.
PS. The Presidential Committee on Human Rights under Medvedev became something more accurately described as the Presidential Committee on Khodorkovsky’s Rights. Why and how an official tax-payer funded grouping devolved to lobbying the interests of a single private individual is, in my view, an entirely valid matter for investigation. AFAIK, however, Guriev himself was only tangentially related to it however, doing little more than giving his “expert opinion” on the issue for their consideration.