MOSCOW, JUNE 22 -- A prominent hard-liner topped the ballot today in the first round of voting for the leadership of the newly formed Russian Communist Party in a political setback for President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Today's election results leave Ivan Polozkov, a party leader from Krasnodar in southern Russia who has campaigned furiously against private entrepreneurs, in a good position to head the Russian Communist Party. They also reflect the deeply conservative mood among Communist activists on the eve of next month's crucial Soviet party congress.

Polozkov received 1,017 votes in the first round of voting against 848 for his nearest rival, Oleg Lobov, who is regarded as a moderate. The leader of a progressive faction within the party known as Democratic Platform, Vladimir Lysenko, finished fifth, with only 90 votes. Delegates now face a runoff between Lobov and Polozkov.

After the result of the balloting became known, Lysenko predicted that the election of Polozkov would hasten the breakup of both the Russian and the Soviet Communist parties. Many Democratic Platform supporters have said they will leave the party at the next Soviet party congress, which opens in Moscow on July 2.

"The Russian party conference is a dress rehearsal for the {Soviet} party congress. I think that even Gorbachev has been taken aback by the strength of the conservatives," Lysenko said.

In his campaign speech, Polozkov sharply criticized the present party leadership and called for a return to orthodox Marxism. He attacked Gorbachev and his allies on the party's ruling Politburo for "inconsistency and concessions" on major issues and said that many of the Soviet Union's present problems were the result of a "crisis of leadership."

Polozkov, 55, was defeated earlier this month by populist politician Boris Yeltsin for the presidency of Russia, the largest and most powerful of the 15 Soviet republics. His election as Russian Communist Party chief would probably signal the start of a bitter struggle for power between the Communist Party and the fledgling legislature, or Supreme Soviet.

In a foretaste of the kind of conflict that could erupt between the two bodies, both of which have been meeting in the Kremlin, the Russian party conference this week strongly objected to a new decree on power under consideration by the Russian Supreme Soviet. A confrontation was only averted after the legislature agreed to postpone adoption of the decree, which would dismantle Communist Party cells in factories, army bases and other government institutions.

While the Soviet constitution theoretically vests supreme power with the soviets, or elected government organs, the Communist Party apparatus continues to wield enormous influence, particularly at regional levels. In his speech to the party conference, Polozkov denounced attempts to reduce the party's control over the economy, saying they were a principal reason for the Soviet Union's present economic crisis.

Democratic Platform members have accused the party bureaucracy of manipulating ostensibly democratic elections to the party congress. They cite public opinion polls that suggest that the mood among rank-and-file party members is much more radical than among delegates to the congress, a solid majority of whom are either party apparatchiks or middle-level managers.

According to one recent poll, 4 out of every 10 Soviet Communists share the views of Democratic Platform, which advocates transforming the party into a Western-type social democratic party. But only 2 percent of the delegates elected to the Soviet party congress support Democratic Platform, whose candidates were obliged to run as individuals rather than as a slate.

The same poll, published in the Estonian paper Sovyetskaya Estonia, indicated that 23 percent of the 19 million Soviet Communists intended to quit the party in the near future.