Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev scored an apparent knockdown Friday in the latest round of ideological skirmishing among Communist Party heavyweights as a conservative newspaper said it erred in criticizing his economic reform policies.

Sovetskaya Rossiya newspaper conceded it made a mistake last month in publishing a letter viewed as a manifesto of opponents of "perestroika," or economic restructuring.The reform foes are widely believed to be led by Yegor Ligachev, the No. 2 man in the party's ruling Politburo and Gorbachev's chief ideological rival, who has criticized the pace of reform in the Soviet Union.

The newspaper's rare admission of error Friday indicated a victory by Gorbachev over Ligachev in the most recent round of a conflict that first became public March 13, when the paper published a full-page letter allegedly written by teacher Nina Andreyevna.

In the letter, published under the headine "I cannot forego my principles," Andreyevna said socialism was being undermined by reforms expanding free market enterprise and allowing more public debate. She said the reforms weakened the Communist Party's "leading role" in the one-party state.

The conservative newspaper, in the retraction article Friday, said it had "demonstrated neither enough responsibility nor a sufficiently balanced approach and understanding that (Andreyevna's) letter leads one away from the revolutionary renewal of society through democracy and glasnost," or The official Soviet news agency Tass gave the retraction even wider publicity Friday by distributing an article of its own under the headline "Sovetskaya Rossiya concedes mistake."